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North Texas Food Bank gives out 600,000 pounds of food for Thanksgiving: A lesson on serving God by serving others

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.


Volunteer Scot Wingo places food atop a car to minimize face-to-face contact during a North Texas Food Bank drive-thru event.
Wearing a face mask to prevent to spread of COVID-19, volunteer Scot Wingo places food atop a car to minimize face-to-face contact during a North Texas Food Bank drive-thru event Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

For much of this year, the North Texas Food Bank has been a lifeline for many people financially impacted by COVID-19. In addition to their normal work, they’ve held five mega-distributions of food during the pandemic, with the latest and largest occurring this past Saturday. 

The events are typically held at Fair Park, site of the state fair, because it is massive but otherwise unoccupied for much of the year. Last weekend, volunteers handed out food to roughly 8,500 families in anticipation of Thanksgiving, giving each a frozen turkey, twenty pounds of nonperishables, fifteen pounds of fresh produce, and bags of wheat bread. The total donation exceeded 600,000 pounds of food to those in need. 

While the numbers are jarring, they stand out even more when considering that holiday giveaways in previous years averaged around five hundred families, meaning they served some eight thousand more than under more normal circumstances. 

As North Texas Food Bank President and CEO Trisha Cunningham described, “So many people need it right now, and there is no stigma attached if you’re coming through this line. You will be served with dignity and respect.” 

That last part is particularly important to note. 

Serving others is serving God

One of the most dangerous temptations when helping others is to serve from a position of superiority. That is particularly true for Christians. 

One of Christ’s final lessons to his disciples was to serve others as if they were serving him (Matthew 25:31–46). The takeaway from that parable is that those whom God rewarded were those who served without thought to what they would gain from the process. 

They helped the needy because it was the right thing to do, not so that they could earn their place in heaven or prove that they were good people. 

As Christians living in a world filled with those God has called us to help, it is vital that we follow their example and serve those around us simply because it’s the right thing to do and because it pleases our Lord when we help those he loves. 

That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to enjoy the gratitude of others when it’s offered, but receiving that gratitude cannot be our primary goal. 

Every day brings new opportunities to love and serve those around us. What we must decide is whether we’ll do so in a way that brings glory to God or glory to ourselves. 

Which will define your service today?