In the New Testament book of James (who some scholars think was the brother of Jesus), we read the words: “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Good gifts we can imagine: good friends, good food, good health, good weather... But “perfect” gifts? What on earth is that about?
It is about God and God’s knowledge of what’s best for us. If God who provides to us is perfect, then by logic the provision itself must be no less. “But,” I say, “I don’t have a perfect life. Look at my appearance, take stock of my abilities (and often lack thereof), check out my bank account, consider my circumstances. Maybe God has given me good things, but they’re sure not perfect!” Therein lies the flaw in our thinking, one that Luther called Hubris. It’s the tendency to make every topic “all about me.” It’s not that my gifts or looks or abilities or talents or whatever else are perfect. Instead, it’s that God is perfect (note: it’s not really all about me, it’s about God). Therefore, God’s care and concern and love for me are perfect. There’s an old saying: “God loves each of us as if God had only one of us to love.” God loves us with a perfect passion for and devotion to our lives.
To live into a truly biblical understanding of Thanksgiving means to turn my attention from self to God – and to focus on the unqualified, unrestricted, unconditional (i.e., perfect) love that God gives to us every moment of every day. Knowing that, how could anyone be less than thankful?