‘In everything give thanks’
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 we read that the will of God for us as believers is our sanctification. That is, that we would grow to be more like Christ in every area of our lives. And here in chapter 5:18 we learn that the will of God is that in everything we give thanks. How do these two relate to each other? Sanctification and thankfulness? They relate to each other in that the sanctified person will be a thankful person. Or put another way, thankfulness is an evidence of sanctification. Living in an attitude of thankfulness will aid our growth in grace.
– It will teach us contentment.
As Willam Secker said, ‘He enjoys much who is thankful for little’.
– It will help us to resist the devil.
After all, a thankful heart will not be easily turned away from trusting its Lord.
– It will deal with our pride.
By recognising that ‘every good and perfect gift comes from above’ (James 1:17) and giving thanks for them in detailwe attack the roots of our arrogance and self-sufficiency.
Christian thankfulness is one of the best forms of witness to an often thankless, and bitter world because whilst everyone else is complaining, the Christian always has much to be thankful for.
The great Bible Commentator, Matthew Henry was once robbed in the street. Following the incident he wrote in his diary, ‘Let me be thankful–first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not too much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who did the robbing!’
In a similar vein, Willam Carey, the English missionary to India, experienced painful loss whilst he was away from his home base. Carey was involved in the vital work of Bible translation. But when a fire broke out and completely destroyed the building, everything was destroyed. Hours upon hours of ground-breaking and vital work were lost.
When Carey was told of the tragedy, he showed no sign of despair or impatience. Instead, he knelt and thanked God that he still had the strength to do the work over again.
‘In one short evening’ he said, ‘the labours of years are consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God!’
‘I had lately brought some things to the utmost perfection of which they seemed capable, and contemplated the missionary establishment with perhaps too much self-congratulation. The Lord has laid me low, that I may look more simply to him.’
Paul was able to say, ‘I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content’ (Philippians 4:11). By God’s grace, we can learn the same. In the words of Roger Carswell, ‘Let us not forget we have more than we deserve; we have been treated better than we deserve; we have lived longer than we deserve, and one day, we are going to heaven.’
How much we have to thank God for!
God’s will for us as Christians is simple: ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks’
By God’s grace let’s resolve afresh to put in into practise.
‘O for a closer walk with God,
a calm and heavenly frame,
a light to shine upon the road
that leads me to the Lamb!’
Sam Oldridge, Borras Park , Wrexham