On Gratitude and Generosity
A reflection on what it means to give thanks and to give back
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.” —Psalm 105:1
In this season of thanksgiving, many of us find ourselves with an abundance of blessings to give thanks for. As we gather around our tables, we thank God for the bounty of our meals, for the joys of family and community, for the chance to stop and celebrate.
It is good to give thanks, to express our gratitude for our Creator. But understood in the fullest sense, thankfulness should move us to a response—to generosity.
Generosity and gratitude go hand in hand. When we practice gratitude, we recognize and cherish all the ways in which we have been provided for. Generosity prompts us to reflect the love and care that we have been shown back to those around us. When we give thanks, we remember that God is generous—nurturing humanity not out of obligation, but out of unconditional compassion. To be generous ourselves is to live by the example God has set, to act justly, love mercy, and humbly acknowledge that we may bless others because God first blessed us.
Our generosity is also a reflection of our trust in our Creator. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a story of three servants who were each entrusted with a portion of their master’s money while he was away. Two of the servants invested what they had been given, earning even more through their work. The third servant buried his bag of silver in the field. When the master returned, he praised the first two servants for their handling of what he gave them, using the resources to produce more. But the master chastised the third servant for squirreling his resources away and producing no fruit.
How are we using the gifts and resources we have been given? Are we sharing with our communities, with our world, out of love and care? Or are we keeping our resources stored away for ourselves alone? Through generosity, we use the gifts of God to further God’s vision of goodness and beauty. We act out of faith, confident that the Spirit will continue to provide for us. As Paul writes in his second letter to the church in Corinth,
“Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” —2 Corinthians 9:11
This Thanksgiving, may our gratitude lead us to live generously. May we seek to participate in God’s vision of Shalom—wholeness and peace—by sharing our blessings with all those whom God has placed in our paths. Amen.
Words: Emma Tweitmann
Photography: Olesia Bahrii, Priscilla Du Preez