A biblical verse often quoted in this context is that of the words of Christ regarding blessings: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
Notice how four measures are used to describe the overflowing fullness of the blessings being spoken of: Good measure – this is not a short-filling, but a filling to the brim. Pressed down – this is the first way we can get more into a container, by forcing even more in. Shaken together – we can also shake a container to make the contents settle to make room for more. Running over – finally, we can overfill till the container has an overflowing excess.
It would be hard to better describe the concept of the cornucopia – the horn of plenty spilling out abundant blessings that is so often used as a symbol of Thanksgiving! But let’s go back to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. We should remind ourselves, of course, that Jesus spoke of being blessed to the extent we bless – gifted to the extent that we give.
But there is actually more to consider when we look at the preceding verse – which is less frequently quoted – and we grasp the whole context: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:37-38).
Reading these verses together shows us that Christ’s words regarding overflowing blessings were set in the context of not judging, not condemning, and forgiving, as well as giving. In each of these cases the overflowing aspect of what we are given applies. Jesus’ words stress that we must be willing to “overflow” in our not judging or condemning others, and in our forgiving them (Matthew 18:21-22).
So what does forgiveness have to do with Thanksgiving season? God’s word shows us that with blessings come responsibilities; God’s gifts are freely and abundantly given, but they come with expectations. Jesus’ words remind us that we will be blessed (there is nothing in his words indicating that he was not talking about both physical and spiritual blessings) as we bless, and we will be forgiven as we forgive. In a season in which we focus on thankfulness for the blessings we receive, we should perhaps also focus on the blessings we give – the gifts of not judging or condemning and actively forgiving. And the blessings we give should be “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”
Our God is an abundantly generous God. In giving and in forgiving, may we strive to be the same.