Several years ago, I taught a sales psychology class. It was designed to help salespeople stay mentally tough because they’re rejected so often. One of the things I taught in it was the Law of Thanksgiving. It stated that the more we give thanks, the more we have to be thankful for. It was all about counting your blessings and then giving thanks for every one of them. It really is an attitude changer when you decide to be thankful each day to find something in your life to be thankful for. The first couple of weeks are pretty easy, but after that, your mind starts to get stretched and gets creative in looking for things to be thankful for. It ultimately changes your perspective on your life and changes how you look at the world.
In a time where the news is dominated by statistics of people getting sick and dying, it’s a great time to reprogram your mind to looking for things to be grateful for. Matthew Henry, a Welsh minister in the 1600’s, demonstrated this line of thinking when his wallet was stolen. He said, “I am thankful that he never robbed me before. I am thankful that although he took my wallet, he didn’t take my life. Although he took all I had, it wasn’t much. I am glad that it was I who was robbed, and not I who did the robbing.” He had adopted a mindset of being thankful and it changed his perspective on things that happened to him. It’s a mindset that we all should have, and I believe it starts with reminding ourselves that all we have has been given to us by God. He is who we need to be thankful to.
Psalm 16:5 says, “You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands” (GNT). It’s important that we start with the thought that God is your source of everything and and that everything you have belongs to Him. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes,” is how Job put it. Being mindful of this helps keep our minds right when the future is uncertain and fear wants to creep in. He has and will continue to give you all you need. Your future is in His hands, not yours. Following the Law of Thanksgiving is a great way to remember that and to give thanks where it’s due. It will allow you to worship during calamity and to be content whether you have a little or a lot. It’s the mindset I believe God is calling us all back to.
One of the things I like to do with my nieces and nephews is when they turn 16, I take them to dinner. We talk about using money versus making money. We then talk about what they love to do and how they can turn that into income. We also discuss college and the importance of education. The conversation then shifts to giving tithes and offerings. I explain how our offerings are holy to God, and that you and I have a greater need to give than God does to receive it. I believe that if God is the source of my income, my job is just a tool that He uses to provide for us. That also means that everything I own and all my income are His. My tithe and offerings are a holy thank you to Him in return for blessing me.
After that, I ask them if they know the Parable of The Talents. Either way, we turn to Matthew 25:14-30 and read it again. I ask them for their interpretation of it. Of course, like all of us, they focus on the servant who buried his talent and then gave back what was given to him. In the story this man gave back everything that was given to him, yet he got in trouble. What God gives us is able to be multiplied by us. That’s when I pull out a crisp $100 bill and set it on the table as we talk. I explain that this money is holy because it’s my offering to God. I then slide it across and tell them that I’m going to trust them with it to multiply it and we can give a joint offering. The catch is they don’t know when I’m going to return and they’re going to have to spend some of that money to make some.
All of us have a need to give our tithe (10% of our increased income) and offerings to. I believe God’s blessings are in direct proportion to our giving. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things” (GNT). I used to think I couldn’t afford to tithe, but since then I’ve learned I can’t afford not to. We don’t give in order to get. We are to give as appreciation for God supplying our needs. He loves a cheerful giver who isn’t giving begrudgingly. When people ask how much should they give and off of what amount, I ask back, “How much do you want God to bless you?” Giving isn’t just about the amount, it’s about your heart. When we recognize that everything we have it God’s, it’s easy to give Him back what He asks for.
One of my favorite pictures we took on a trip to Haiti was where one person was pretending to cut a board with a skill saw while another person held up the power cord with a confused look on her face. We took it to make people laugh, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s how many people live their lives. They have the right tools to be successful, but they lack the power to utilize those tools properly.
Part of what I do for a living, and also do here on this site, is to give people the tools they need to be successful. Power tools work best when they’re plugged in. Imagine how long it would take to cut a board using a skill saw that wasn’t plugged in. Think about the effort it would require and what that cut would look like if they had to do it manually with that saw. Even though we had the right tool, without the power to use the tool to its potential, we wouldn’t be very successful.
In Deuteronomy 8:18, Moses was speaking to the Children of Israel just before they went into the Promised Land. He was giving them final instructions to remember since he would not be crossing the Jordan river with them. He said, “Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful” (NLT). He was reminding them that they have the tools to be successful, but God is the source of power behind those tools. He wanted them to remember that their success wouldn’t be of their own power.
The same is true for us. While we hold the tools and do the work, it is God who gives us the power to be successful at whatever He calls us to put our hand to. Like a professional athlete who takes a knee after a touchdown or points to Heaven after a homerun, we need to take time to honor God for each success we have. It keeps us humble and it reminds us and others that God is our source. Apart from His power, we are trying to cut a board with an unplugged skill saw.