“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:17 NIV
The apostle Paul is a man who had learned the true meaning of thanksgiving.
He was unjustly accused, treated poorly & separated from those who meant the world to him.
If ever there was a person who had the right to complain, it was Paul.
Instead of complaining though, his mouth was constantly filled with thanksgiving.
Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV).
Paul is our role model for Thankfulness. Here are some things we can learn from him:
1) Thankfulness adds value.
In life we accumulate stuff, we also accumulate experiences.
Have you ever noticed that no matter how good the possessions or the experiences of a bitter or complaining person, they’re never satisfied?
The opposite is true for someone who’s life is centred in Thankfulness. Everything is better. In fact, there’s a sense like it’s better than that, it’s the best. They find a way to appreciate almost anything. They find the silver lining in every cloud.
I have a friend who owned a home on an average street in a rough part of town. But they appreciated it. They loved it. They cared for it. By the time they sold it, they had added value to the home & made enough capital gains to advance up the residential ladder into a suburb more suited to their aspirations. At the same time another friend of mine who was living in similar circumstances didn’t appreciate his environment. The house was not improved, the grass grew & the home became part of the lowest common denominator on the street. He didn’t add value to his home & still lives there to this day.
It made me think: what you appreciate, appreciates.
For the last decade (aside from a few lazy seasons) I’ve been a prolific car cleaner. I clean my car all the time. Sometimes twice a week. Sometimes someone will ask me why, and my answer is always the same: I appreciate what God has given me & if I look after this, I believe he will continue to bless me.
We are all stewards of possessions & experiences.
Add value to yours.
Be thankful for them.
2) Thankfulness is necessary for an enjoyable life.
I heard a friend say recently that the difference between joy & happiness is that joy comes from the Lord & is not attached to your situation, but that happiness comes from the word ‘happenings’ & is attached to what you go through.
Jesus gives us the power to receive joy and exercise that fruit regardless of what we face.
If we are going to enjoy our lives, we need to exercise joy.
When you squeeze a toothpaste tube, toothpaste comes out. When you get squeezed, what comes out? When the pressure comes on some people, bitterness comes out. For others, it’s joy. It’s praise. It’s Thankfulness.
Billy Graham put it this way: “Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.”
Thanksgiving is the giving of thanks to God, and should be one of the most distinctive marks of someone who believes in Jesus.
It should be a hallmark of our lives.
A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.
Don’t allow an ungrateful heart rob you of joy. Don’t let it harden your heart.
3) Thankfulness is a choice
On instagram the other morning, Rich Wilkerson Jr was saying: “Too many of us are feeling our way into action, we must be people who act our way into feelings.”
Decide to do something & enjoy it’s fruit.
It is uncommon to be born with a silver spoon in our mouth. And let’s be honest, even those born into wealth & privilege aren’t automatically thankful. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true
Thankfulness then is not a sign of privilege, but a landmark of a healthy heart.
An ungrateful heart is a heart that has forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything. It is a heart that has forgotten His great love for us. “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Romans 1:21, NIV). An ungrateful heart is a heart that is cold toward God and indifferent to His mercy and love.
Why should we be thankful?
Because God is good. And God has blessed you.
Don’t believe me?
Look around, then give God thanks.