Gratitude is a posture. A choice. We often overlook this truth and blindly believe that gratitude and thankfulness is a response to overflowing blessings. But Paul resets our perspective when he wrote to the Thessalonians:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
~I Thessalonians 5:18
Did you truly catch that? In all circumstances. Everything. In the times when we’re disappointed, experiencing heartbreak, or waiting for God to act. During those moments when the world seems to be crashing down around us and we don’t know what to do, in the times of joy and seasons of sorrow. When tragedy strikes and when happiness abounds. In all the seasons and stages of life we are to give thanks.
Why? Because this is God’s will for your life.
I love how our former youth pastor commentated about this while preaching on this topic. We are always looking for what God’s will is for our lives. It’s a question we all ask and an answer we all pursue. But Paul makes it quite plain and simple what one of God’s wills for our life is. Yet how often do we obey?
Giving thanks isn’t something that is always comfortable or convenient. In fact, it’s downright difficult in some cases and is rarely something we feel like doing. Sometimes, it’s a huge sacrifice. But even in those moments and situations when the last thing we feel like doing is giving thanks, we still must.
Paul, the author of 1 Thessalonians had personal experience with giving thanks in all situations. As we read in Acts 16:25:
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them…”
Paul and Silas praised the Lord while in prison. Was this something they felt like doing? I highly doubt it! Yet in the middle of a dark, dank Roman prison cell they praised the Lord even though they were likely to die in the morning. So Paul definitely had experience giving thanks in all circumstances!
Paul puts this command another way in his letter to the Ephesians:
“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
Give thanks always, for everything. How often do we do this? Thanksgiving is often times a sacrifice. David talks about offering to God a sacrifice of praise in Psalm 50:23:
“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
There are many things we can offer God—time, resources, gifts, money—but in order for them to be a sacrifice they must cost us something personally. It is an offering that requires saying “no” to self and giving an amount that is difficult and requires faith. Just as Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their large, showy gifts and commended the widow for her offering of two pennies because it was all that she had, so also God is delighted when we offer Him all that we have and are because we know that He is worthy.
What are we offering to God by way of sacrifice? Are we giving Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving?
Thanks are not only due our Lord when things go according to our plans, but when things don’t go according to our plan. Our gratitude must not stop at our selfish desires, but extend beyond them to see the bigger picture that God has in mind, which is for our sanctification and greater good. So this Thanksgiving as you gather round the table and enjoy a delicious meal with your family or friends, don’t forget to offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving and come before the Giver of all things with a heart of gratitude.
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