1 Thessalonians 5:18
… Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Paul summarizes thanksgiving very well in this passage in 1 Thessalonians. We will never find ourselves in a situation where thanks is not appropriate. It is an optimist’s perspective but even in the worst of circumstances we can find things to thank God for.
God wants us to thank Him in all circumstances. This is for His glory but it is also for our benefit. As we have seen in other devotions, giving thanks helps prevent anxiety. Thanksgiving will create a ripple effect and cause others to give thanks. And it will give us a more cheerful attitude as we reflect that all we have is a gift from God.
Giving thanks in all circumstances is difficult but it becomes easier the more we do it. When we have an “attitude of gratitude” it carries from day to day. The next day becomes easier to give thanks because we’re still remembering all of the things God did for us the day before.
So give it a try. You’re already thankful for many things, try being thankful for a bit more. Soon you’ll be able to find things to be thankful for in every circumstance. When this happens you’ll find yourself a blessing to God, a blessing to others, and you’ll find even more blessings in your own life.
1 Timothy 4:4
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…
When God created the world, after each day He looked at what He had done and declared that it was good. Only after man sinned did things in the world become corrupt and less than good.
As Paul writes to Timothy, his instructions are that nothing is bad in and of itself. Anything that we receive we should do so with thanksgiving because God gave it to us.
Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that good things can’t be used in bad ways and we must make this distinction. Offering thanks for something that we intend to use in a sinful manner doesn’t make it acceptable to use. We don’t know what purpose everything has but we know of bad purposes for some things. For instance, God has a purpose for marijuana and as it is created, it is good. But many people use this in a way that God did not intend and offering thanks for it doesn’t make this any more acceptable.
Whatever we receive, we should recognize it as a gift from God. If it is a gift from God, we can expect two things from it. First, it is to be used for God’s glory because that’s what gifts are for. And second, it is a good gift because God did not give us bad ones.
…Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
We absolutely need to be thankful for our salvation because it is the greatest gift that God has given us, even greater than life itself. Our life didn’t cost God anything but our salvation cost Jesus His life.
There are many things that go with our salvation however and we should be thankful for them as well. We are given the Holy Spirit. We are given a new nature. We have a whole new life. And we are given a heavenly inheritance.
Salvation is about being rescued from the punishment that we deserve for our sins. But we not only get this, we get all of the benefits of righteousness and that includes being able to live with God in heaven.
Sometimes things on earth seem pretty good but other times they are very difficult. No matter how good or bad they are though, we have heaven to look forward to. Things will be better than our greatest days here on earth. And our bad days won’t even be a memory; they’ll be forgotten completely as we enjoy our inheritance.
Our heavenly inheritance is something that all Christians should look forward. Even though we have yet to receive it, we can thank God for it today because we are assured of it as part of our future.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Anxiety and worry affects many people. Some of it comes down to an inability to trust God while others suffer from medical conditions that cause anxiety. Fortunately God offers us something to help with anxiety problems.
It is no coincidence that anxiety and thanksgiving are presented by Paul as opposites. When we worry, we are not trusting God to handle the situation, often instead trying to work under our own ability.
When we thank God, we recognize the work that He has already done in our life. Thanksgiving remembers how God has seen us through difficult times and should help us realize that He will continue to see us through difficulties.
It is difficult to be anxious and thank God at the same time. How can we say “I thank you for providing this for me but I’m not sure if you can handle my current difficulty?”
God can handle all of our problems and we need to remember this to prevent our anxiety. The more often we thank God, the more often we remember God’s goodness and the less likely we are to be anxious about anything.
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
The argument can be made that obscene language doesn’t do any harm when they are idle words and they are not aimed at tearing down another person. There are also varying degrees of obscenity according to what is allowed on our airwaves and what is still banned under the guise of decency. Some words would appear to be worse to use than others.
But this isn’t the point in the eyes of God. Regardless whether foolish words do any actual harm, they are a waste of breath. We should concentrate on what we are thankful for, not what upsets us and causes us to say foolish things.
We were meant to praise the Lord and every time we say something that isn’t constructive, we waste an opportunity to do so. Once words come out of our mouth, we can never get them back inside.
Words can do a lot of damage even when we don’t intend for them to do so. Thanks can have the opposite effect however. We never know the unintended impact that thanks may have on a person. Like our mothers always said, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Or better yet, offer a word of thanksgiving because you can never go wrong with this.