Unless I totally misunderstand the English language, our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday - by definition - requires someone to thank. That's what the phrase "giving thanks" means, after all.
Gathered around the table on the fourth Thursday of November, believers may thank God for the provision of good gifts, including the family and friends gathered there. But if the non-believer participates in Thanksgiving, who are they thanking?
- The standard response might be "Thanks for my family and friends" - but again, who are they thanking? Do they thank other people for being their family & friends?
- If they thank someone for the bountiful provision, who do they thank? Their employers for providing the paycheck that enabled them to buy all the turkey and pumpkin pie?
But consider this: They don't even realize it, but they are> giving glory to God. By acknowledging the good gifts, the bountiful provision, they are by default acknowledging the giver of those gifts. Do they recognize God as the One who has provided for their every need? Of course not. They assume that all earthly possessions come from the hands of men - their own or their employers'. But God has chosen to use sinful humans, including nonbelievers and their employers, to provide for the needs of mankind. God has chosen to funnel the giving of earthly goods through the hands of humans, whether they acknowledge Him as the ultimate source or not.
Can non-believers glorify God, perhaps even without knowing it? Consider these Scriptures:
1 Peter 2:11-12
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions
of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the
Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may
see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
These verses don't speak directly to the idea of non-believers glorifying God without knowing it, but the thought may be there.
So if you have non-believing friends or family around your table this Thursday, say a special prayer of thanks for their (unwitting) praise and glory of God.