Your Thanksgiving menu is missing an ingredient.
I'm not talking about gravy, mashed potatoes, or pecan pie. Or salt.
But let me be clear: if your Thanksgiving menu is missing those items, then your plan is missing much more than just one ingredient! How can you host Thanksgiving without pecan pie?
Let's pause. What is the most critical ingredient for a Thanksgiving meal? Go ahead, write down your answer.
Did you write it down?
Ok. "Turkey" is a reasonable answer. So is "gratitude."
However, if you said, "a new TV to watch the Bears play the Lions," then we're not on the same page.
Here's what I had in mind: love.
Love is one of those virtues we take for granted. But in my experience, love doesn't come naturally. I have to plan for it, and I have to work at it.
Going into Thanksgiving, my focus quickly drifts to my comfort. Another slice of pecan pie? Yes, please. Naptime? Sounds good.
But love? When I'm going to see Uncle Bob?
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul makes a powerful argument for love. To put it in context, it might sound like this:
If I offer a beautiful Thanksgiving prayer but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of cooking delicious turkey and understand all mysteries of the kitchen, and if I have all faith to provide a twelve-course meal for the entire family but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my leftovers, and if I give over my body to washing the dishes but do not have love, I gain nothing.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, there are many subtle replacements for love:
Pleasing our family.
Paul makes it clear: love is superior.
Paul also clarifies that love is not a warm feeling.
Christian love is like a diamond. Whatever angle you look at it from, you see a beautiful facet. Yet a diamond is dull without light. When our lives are lit up by God's love, then we can demonstrate the fullness of love.
As I said, love is easy to talk about but is hard to practice!
Love is patient. Who will need your patience this year?
Love is kind. How could you show consideration for someone else’s needs?
Love does not envy. How can you be pleased with someone else's contributions?
Love is not boastful. How might you be tempted to show off this year?
Love is not arrogant. How can you serve in a self-forgetful way?
Love is not rude. Who might tempt you to rudeness?
Love is not self-seeking. How can you restrain yourself?
Love is not irritable. What topics might rub you the wrong way?
Love does not keep a record of wrongs. What do you need to forgive from previous interactions with your family or friends?
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness. What bad habits do you need to put aside?
Love rejoices in the truth. Where can you find common ground with others at the table?
Love bears all things. How can we overlook the flaws of others?
Love believes all things. How can we look for the good in others?
Love hopes all things. What are you praying God will do?
Love endures all things. How will we remain faithful to God, even in difficulty?
I've come a long way since I was a teenager. But I know I still see dimly. Perhaps you feel the same way.
Wherever you are on the journey, let's make Love the main ingredient at Thanksgiving this year.
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