“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This statement Paul wrote to the church of Thessalonica is one that should be applied to our lives daily. During the holiday season, there is an emphasis on the need for being thankful. However, if we adopt the attitude Paul commanded, we will give thanks “in every thing,” at all times, and not just during Thanksgiving.
Notice that Paul admonished to “give thanks.” This term implies that God wants His children not only to feel thankful, but also to “express” gratitude and thanksgiving. Paul taught this same principle in writing to the church at Ephesus: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). It will do us all good to “give” thanks to God through prayer.
By offering prayers of thanksgiving to God, we are reminded that we are dependent on God for all things. Every “good and perfect” gift is from God (James 1:17). Without His blessings upon our lives, we would have nothing. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Every breath, every meal, every ray of sunshine is from His bountiful hand.
Further, consider that Paul instructed us to give thanks “in everything.” He did not teach that we should be thankful “for” everything. Certainly, we should not be thankful “for” gang violence, child abuse, broken homes or divorce. Nevertheless, Christians can learn to be thankful “in” all circumstances. For the Christian, there is always a “bright side.” In all circumstances, there is the quiet confidence and calm assurance that comes from knowing God and being close to Him. The Father has promised that He will never leave or forsake His children (Hebrews 13:5-6). Finally, notice from the text that being thankful is “the will of God in Christ Jesus.” Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that “doing the Father’s will” is necessary to go to heaven: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). “Doing” the Father’s will is vital! It is only by doing His will that we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. We might think that “doing the Father’s will” involves some “great” accomplishment that would dazzle others who heard of it. But Paul taught that simply being thankful in everything is part of doing God’s will.
In view of these thoughts, we should all realize the great importance of being thankful. If we have not been “giving thanks in everything,” then a change is in order. A day should not pass without every responsible person giving thanks to God for the countless blessings He provides.