In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
It is important to give God gratitude in all things. Now there’s a difference between in all things and for all things. When we give thanks for all things, we are thankful for things like our home, clothes, food, family and friends. When we give thanks in all things, we give God gratitude for challenging circumstances and the good that results from them.
The Thessalonica believers were struggling a little in their faith. They faced persecution and were confused over false teachings about Jesus’ second coming. Paul wrote this letter to encourage and instruct them on how to live well under trying circumstances. Even though the church was still young, their faith and love for Jesus were strong. Paul wanted them to continue in their spiritual growth despite their challenges. (4:1).
Thessalonians 5:18 was part of that encouragement and instruction to help them grow spiritually. Paul wanted them to give thanks for everything the Lord did for them. Gratitude would help them in times of persecution and other adversities they may encounter.
A couple of years ago, my daughter and I went grocery shopping for my mom. It was the Christmas season, and a charitable organization was at the supermarket asking for donations of non-perishable items. They had a few on display and told us we could buy any one we liked.
After we finished and exited the supermarket, I completely forgot to purchase something for the charity, so we returned to the supermarket and bought some foodstuff. But they told us we needed to buy a particular brand of mouthwash if we wanted to spin the wheel to win a prize. So, back we went again and purchased the mouthwash. After that, my daughter spun the wheel and won a stuffed toy. She was elated because she loves stuffed toys even though she’s in her teenage years. And they gave me back the mouthwash.
While I stayed at the supermarket a little longer than expected, I felt joyful in giving to a worthy cause and was thankful for the opportunity. I could have easily not bothered when I realized I had forgotten to purchase the items after leaving the supermarket, then having to go back a second time to buy the mouthwash. I thought the mouthwash was part of the package, not just for an opportunity to spin the wheel. My patience paid off. My daughter won a stuffed toy, and I got extra mouthwash.
Gratitude is pleasing to God, and one of the best ways to give God thanks is through prayer. The Bible tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT).
Some Things to be Grateful For
Here are some examples of things we should be grateful.
It is important to give gratitude for our food and material needs
By being thankful for our everyday necessities, God will continue to provide. For example, Jesus thanked His Father for the five barley loaves and two fish which fed five thousand people with leftovers (Matthew 14:19). But God not only provides for humans, He also provides for the natural world, for which we too must be thankful. Psalm 147:7-9 NIV puts it nicely:
Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
It is important to give gratitude for our salvation
God sent Jesus to die for our sins so we could spend eternal life with Him (John 3:16). We already have eternal life when we believe in Jesus, and I think this is something worth praising God for daily. David composed a lovely song of praise to God in the form of Psalm 65:1-5 NIV.
It is important to give gratitude for help in times of trouble
Life is hard. Jesus did say that in this world, we will have trouble, but to take heart because He overcame the world. This means Jesus will help us whenever we face trials. James even said we should rejoice when we face different kinds of trials because trials help us to grow spiritually (James 1:2-4). Psalm 34:1-4, is a prayer of David when he encountered a troublesome period.
It is important to give gratitude for other believers
We should be thankful for our spiritual leaders, fellow congregants, mentors and encouragers. We should also be grateful for our teachers, spouses, children, friends and work colleagues. Paul had a wonderful prayer for his comrades:
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Gratitude is important because it helps give meaning and purpose to our lives. When we give thanks in everything we are telling God how much we appreciate Him despite whatever challenges we face. And through that appreciation we receive His blessings.
Recommended Blogs on Gratitude
Used with permission from Lisa Marcelina Granger.