At the end of my last blog, I mentioned that the general reason being thankful in everything (I Thessalonians 5:18) is not an absurd command is found in two words. I also stated that I would in the next blog explain what that reason is. The two words that explain why it is not absurd for Christians to give thanks in everything are the words “we know”. I.E., it is not unreasonable for us to go through life with an attitude of gratitude because of what “we know”.
There is a great hymn that reminds us of the fact that there is much we don’t now know about how blessed we are. One of the verses goes like this, “When we stand with Christ in glory, looking o’er life’s finished story, then Lord shall we fully know, not ‘til then how much we owe.” No doubt the hymn writer was right. Until we get to heaven we won’t fully know how blessed we are and how much we really do owe. However, in spite of the fact that we will not know fully until then how much we owe, Scripture does mention an abundance of things we can know right now that make doing what I Thessalonians 5:18 commands the only reasonable thing for Christians. In the next few blogs I want to mention some of the things we know right here and now that turn this command which at first glance may seem absurd into not absurd, but rather the only sensible thing to do.
1. According to 2 Cor. 8:9 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He, as the second person of the Godhead, was infinitely rich for our sake became poor (he laid aside the independent exercise of His Divine attributes, took upon Himself the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men, humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the excruciating, humbling, undeserved death of the cross) in order that we might become rich (in the future as we enter into heaven and enjoy all the incomprehensible privileges thereof; but even right now as we presently experience the riches of His grace – forgiveness, mercy, deliverance from the penalty and controlling power of sin, joy, peace, meaning in life, fellowship with God, hope for the future, etc.). Think on these things my friends because they provide part of the rationale for giving thanks in everything.
2. According to 2 Timothy 1:12 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know whom we have believed and are convinced that He is able to keep what we have entrusted (our soul’s well being) to Him until that day (the day of His return or our departure for heaven). I.E, we will make it in spite of our difficulties because He is keeping us. He has begun a good work in us and He will not quit until He finishes it in us. He’s not going to take us half way there and then drop or abandon us. Nothing or no one will pluck us out of His hands. Jesus Christ will lose none of those whom the Father has given to Him. Think on these things my friends because they provide part of the rationale for giving thanks in everything.
3. According to Romans 5:1 and 8:1 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the work He has done for us in His life and His death on the cross we have been justified (declared righteous before God) and are now at peace with God. We were alienated from God, enemies of God because of our sin and deservedly under the curse and wrath of a holy and just God but now this God has imputed (put to our account) the righteousness of Christ to us and declared us to be righteous. He has removed us from being under His condemnation and brought us into His favor. He has taken our sin and imputed it to Jesus and taken His righteousness and put it to our account and because of this great transaction He now sees us united to His righteous Son. As a result, He could no more condemn us than He could condemn His own altogether righteous Son. Think on these things my friends because they provide part of the rationale for giving thanks in everything.
4. According to Romans 5:3 – 5 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that the tribulations God allows us to experience are intended to bring incredible benefits into our lives right here and now: 1) they are intended to produce perseverance (the spiritual muscles which are necessary for becoming steadfast, unmovable, persistent, mature, long distance runners in the race of life; they are intended to develop the qualities of determination and strength which are necessary for productivity in the Christian life), 2) proven character (internal integrity, consistency, sincerity regardless of our circumstances, an internal depth of godliness that has weathered the tests of time, an internal depth of godliness that manifests itself in godly behavior that does not have to be restrained from doing wrong or coerced into doing right from the outside), 3) a hope that does not disappoint (a positive expectant attitude that is based on the reality and experience of God’s presence, promises and power in the midst of difficulties rather than a fantasy kind of expectation of good that is based on living in a mental or experiential world of denial, evasion and unreality), and 4) a deepening experience and realization of the love of God (knowing God’s faithful, consistent, sacrificial, practical, unchanging love in the context of real life, a love that is most fully demonstrated in what he has done for us and in us through Christ, a love that compels Him to discipline us rather than coddle us, a love that is not put off by our foibles and failures, a love that motivates Him to forgive us when we act or react wrongly, a love from which nothing can separate us, a love will do the necessary hard things to us and for us that will make us more like Jesus Christ). Think on these things my friends because these things are part of the reason why giving thanks in everything is not absurd.
Well, that’s enough for today about the things we know that make giving of thanks in everything a realistic and reasonable rather than an absurd thing for us to do. In future blogs I want to enlarge on other things we know which validate the reasonableness of the command of I Thessalonians 5:18. After that I want to do two other things: one, I want to discuss some reasons why we find it difficult to actually do what is clearly the will of God for us and two I want to present some suggestions for making the giving of thanks a life style for us.
In closing I want to briefly give you my reasons for spending so much time on this subject in these blogs. I’m doing this because I believe fulfilling this command is one of the primary things that God wants from us. After all, I Thessalonians 5:18 says that it is the will of God for us. I’m doing this because I believe developing this kind of a lifestyle is one of the best ways for us to make an impact on the non-Christians with whom we associate. After all, Philippians 2:14, 15 indicate that it is only as we avoid its opposite (murmuring and disputing) that we become blameless and harmless, shine as lights among unbelievers and hold forth the Word of life. And third, I’m doing it because I believe developing a lifestyle of gratitude will be good for you. Thankful people are happy people. Unthankful people are unhappy people and they provide the context in which others are influenced toward unhappiness also. You know that from personal experience and so do I.
And here’s a suggestion (challenge, invitation) for you. Why don’t you join me in discerning a biblically based list of things (with Scripture references) which make it clear that giving thanks in everything is not an absurd thing for Christians to do? Include your thought in the comments section of my blog so that you can be a blessing to me and others.