Dak Prescott quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys to their franchise-record ninth straight win last Sunday, throwing for more than three hundred yards and two touchdowns against the NFL’s best defense. However, none of his throws caught the imagination of America like the shortest one he made all day. It was on the sidelines and didn’t gain a single yard for his team. But the video of the event has gone viral.
The Cowboys rookie was sitting on the bench drinking a cup of water. He turned to throw it into the trash can behind him. It bounced off the can and onto the ground. He got up, picked up the cup, and tossed it into the trash.
Such humility is nothing new for Prescott, who continues to show remarkable poise and maturity as he leads the team Forbes has identified as the most valuable franchise in all of sports. The fact that so many people were impressed with such a modest act says more about us than it does about him.
According to Pew Research, only 12 percent of Americans think other countries are better than the US. Our national pride is the source of much good: our can-do and never-say-die spirit, our commitment to defend our country at home and abroad, our willingness to export American democracy around the world.
But it is also the source of our greatest spiritual failing: self-reliance. As I’ve often noted, self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide. Self-reliance keeps us from Spirit-reliance. It turns us from God to self when we need God most.
That’s why Thanksgiving is such an important season and commitment. When we take time to thank God for his blessings, we position ourselves as creatures before our Creator. We acknowledge our dependence on the Almighty, our need of his provision and sufficiency. We admit that we have nothing by our merit and everything by his mercy.
“Thanksgiving” is giving thanks. But you cannot give a gift without a recipient. When we give thanks to God, we acknowledge that he is God. So let’s be sure this Thanksgiving week that we truly give thanks. Theologian Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. notes, “It must be an odd feeling to be thankful to nobody in particular. Christians in public institutions often see this odd thing happening on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone in the institution seems to be thankful ‘in general.’ It’s very strange. It’s a little like being married in general.”
In yesterday’s First15, Craig Denison quoted Brennan Manning: “The saved sinner is prostrate in adoration, lost in wonder and praise. He knows repentance is not what we do in order to earn forgiveness; it is what we do because we have been forgiven.” In the same way, giving thanks is not what we do in order to earn God’s blessing; it is what we do because we have been blessed.
The Apostle Paul testified, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30). That’s because he knew God’s promise: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Take time this week to acknowledge your Creator’s power and your creaturely weakness. Humble yourself before your King in gratitude for his grace. And you’ll say with Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
That will be cause for thanksgiving, indeed.
Publication date: November 22, 2016
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