The late Neal Maxwell (a university administrator and spiritual motivator) wrote: “We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” Jesus said as much more than once: “What do ye more than others?” “Take up your cross and follow me.” “This is my commandment, that you love one another.” As the old adage puts it: “Thanksgiving is an action word.”
Thanksgiving really is “an action word.” Otherwise, counting our many blessings and naming them one by one is simply a matter of taking stock of what’s mine. Thanksgiving, properly understood, is a matter of taking stock of what’s mine and then determining how to use it to bless others. W.T. Purkiser (a Nazarene preacher and author from generations ago) was on target half a century ago when he wrote: “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our Thanksgiving.”
“But,” someone counters, “I don’t have enough material blessings to make much of a dent in the needs of the world.” There are two answers to that. First, give what you can, even if it seems small. Your gifts plus mine plus hers plus his plus those of millions of others can make a dent in the needs of the world. Second, not every gift has to be monetary. Do you have a smile to offer? A listening ear? A gesture of concern? A handshake? A hug? A phone call? An e-mail? Can you do something to affirm another person, to ease their pain, to shatter their loneliness? If so, you have significant gifts that lovingly used may not change the whole world, but they can change one person’s world in a profound way.
“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.”