“In everything give thanks.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, we are instructed to give thanks in everything. What does that look like in our homes and cities as we continue to deal with challenges on every hand. Especially this Thanksgiving.
As we prepare for our family gatherings, the impact of inflation, rising gas prices, and supply shortages may cause us to question, “is there really anything to be thankful for?” What gratitude are you bringing to this year’s Thanksgiving celebration?
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation and thankfulness for what one has. Is there anything we appreciate or are thankful for? While we are very good at expressing our displeasure for what we don’t have, regrettably, we often miss the mark in articulating our gratitude.
Failure to show gratitude
We, in general, are slow in offering gratitude. We will sometimes express gratitude when prayers are answered, or catastrophes are avoided. However, even in those special circumstances, we are more likely to attribute our good fortune to luck than to God’s benevolence.
In the busyness of living, we take for granted those things God provides through His grace to all mankind: the sun and the moon (Deut. 33:14), the regularity with which the seasons change (Gen. 8:22), and the marvels of created life (Rom. 1:20).
We fail to recognize our blessings and therefore fail to express gratitude. Gratitude is the only “proper response” to beneficence: the generosity and kindness from a benefactor. In our case, exuberant gratitude is the best response to our gracious and loving God.
Gratitude and salvation
With salvation, we as believers experience a multitude of blessings, both now and in the future. First and foremost is our deliverance from the power and penalty of sin (Rom. 6:9). This release from our sin nature provides instant access to God the Father (Rom. 5:2).
We are given a new identity in Christ, both as children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). As new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we are gifted with the presence of the Holy Spirit who empowers us with the same dunamis power that raised Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19).
Finally, eternal life is God’s special gift to believers. It is a gift that cannot be acquired through works, or any other path. Yet it is readily available through belief in Jesus the Christ (John 3:16). Through eternal life, we can experience God’s presence, peace, and provision. As heirs of God, we await our final inheritance reserved for us in heaven, when we return to our true home (1 Pet. 1:3-4).
It is God’s will that in everything, we give thanks.
It is not God’s will that we express gratitude for “gratitude’s sake only”. We know that in giving thanks, His power can be released into our life in ways never before seen.
This includes the formation of incredible joy, unshakeable hope, and unbroken peace (1 Pet. 1:2-4). The outward expression of appreciation to God, works to bring new power and access that, under other circumstances, would be unattainable.
As we prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving, are we grateful for what we do have? According to the Greek writer and philosopher, Cicero, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” Let us, therefore, bring to this Thanksgiving dinner an “extra serving” of gratitude.