(*Is there such a word? If not, there should be, so I invented it.)
In the previous posts “Speaking the language of heaven on earth” and “Is the command of I Thessalonians 5:18 absurd or not absurd” I began to give some reasons why it is not absurd to expect that Christians should give thanks in everything. This post is a continuation of that discussion.
I’ve mentioned that it is not unreasonable to expect that we as Christians should give thanks in everything because of what “we know”. We looked at four truths “we know” that provide substantial reasons and motivation for practicing a life style of thanksgiving. It is my contention that when rightly understood, considered and believed these reasons along with the additional reasons I’m going to mention in this blog will inevitably promote a constant attitude of gratitude. As you read what I have to say, please keep in mind that the reasons I’m mentioning that I say should sustain a thankful attitude and practice are not exhaustive, but only partial. I encourage you to read the ones I’ve selected and then add to my list others that you’ve identified. Please list the ones you’ve identified on the comment section of my post for the blessing and the encouragement of others who may read my blog.
Please do this in that I am convinced, after long years of counseling hundreds of people and teaching counseling to hundreds of people, that many professing Christians are unhappy, disgruntled, angry, anxious, discouraged, defeated, depressed, jealous, contentious, argumentative, and extremely demanding because they have not learned to do what God commands in I Thessalonians 5:18. Still further, I am convinced that one of the reasons many of us fail to rightly glorify God (the chief end of our existence) and impact others for Christ and fail to experience personal blessing in our own lives is because we are not gripped by all of the reasons we have to give thanks in everything. Moreover, it is also my contention that focusing on these biblical reasons for thanksgiving will demolish a negative, discontented, complaining, murmuring attitude toward life and propel us into a life of joy and contentment and satisfaction that make giving of thanks in everything a reality. This, in turn will bring glory to God and blessing to us and other people.
We pick up this partial list of reasons why giving of thanks in everything is not absurd at number 5.
5. According to Romans 8:15 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that we have been adopted into the family of God and that God is our Father. In some ways being adopted into the family of God is the choicest of all our spiritual blessings. In some ways it goes beyond being justified or forgiven or redeemed. God could have done all these things for us and still not adopted us into His family and declared that now we have the right to call Him Father. And what a Father He is. The idea that God is our Father is mentioned in at least one hundred and seventy two places in the New Testament. (You’ll find these passages identified in my book, A Christian Growth and Discipleship Manual. You’ll also find information about what it means for God to be called our Father in my book Reaching the Ear of God.) To give you some idea of the kind of Father we Christians have I’m going to list a few (not all) of the phrases the Bible uses in describing our Father. I encourage you to take the time to look up the references where He is declared to be the kind of Father these phrases say He is. According to the Bible, He is our heavenly Father; He is the Father of all comfort; He is the perfect Father; He is the glorious Father; He is the Father of all mercy; He is the Father who sees in secret; He is the Father who causes His sun to rise and the rain to fall; He is the Father who rewards His children; He is the Father who feeds the birds of the air; He is the Father who arrays the lilies of the field; He is the Father who knows what you need before you even ask; He is the Father who gives good gifts to His children; He is the Father who forgives; He is the Father who is Lord of all; He is the Father who controls all the birds of the air; He is the Father whom the Jesus came to reveal; He is the Father who is like Jesus Christ; He is the Father who has a Kingdom; He is the Father who reveals Jesus Christ to us; He is the Father who is in charge of the angels; He is the Father whom the angels worship and serve; He is the Father who will not allow one of His children to be ultimately lost; He is the Father who gives the true bread out of heaven; He is the Father who draws people to Jesus Christ; He is the Father who has given a people to Jesus Christ; He is the Father who gives us eternal life; He is the Father who raises us up on the last day; He is the living Father (the Father who is life and gives life); He is the Righteous and Holy Father; He is the Father of Lights; He is the Father who doesn’t change; He is the Father who is God; etc. I say what a Father we Christians have and what a privilege to be adopted into His family. Think carefully about these truths about God as your Father because they are part of the reason why we should give thanks in everything.
6. According to Romans 8:17, 18 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that the sufferings of this present time aren’t worthy of being compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us and in us. In another place Paul informs us that we know that the trials we experience are productive in that they are producing an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison with any good things or bad things we’ve encountered in this world (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18). We know that one day He will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory (Philippians 3:21). We know that one day we will receive a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). We know that one day Christ will be fully glorified in us and we will be glorified in Him (2 Thessalonians 1:10). We know that one day we will be revealed with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4). We know, as Scripture assures us, that in the ages to come God is going to show the surpassing riches (i.e., riches that surpass anything we could imagine) of His grace in kindness toward s in Christ Jesus. We know that in this world we have only a small glimpse of how rich in kindness and grace God is toward us, but in the future God is going to show us the fullness of His riches toward us. We know that these riches which become ours surpass (go beyond) anything that has been part of our experience. We know that there is no standard of measurement to which we could compare these riches; riches that will all be ours forever to enjoy; riches that go beyond anything we have ever seen or heard (I Corinthians 2:9). Think carefully about these truths about the incomparable nature of the glorious riches that we will one day receive because they are part of the reason why we should give thanks in everything.
7. According to Romans 8:28 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that God is working all things together for our ultimate good, the good which according to Romans 8:29 and 30 consists in making us more like Christ and bringing us to eternal glory. As part of the rationale for giving thanks in everything we need to remember that God’s thoughts toward us are not thoughts of evil but of good to bring us to a desired and desirable end (Jeremiah 29:11).We know that though Satan and others who fulfill his desires may mean what they do to us for evil, God who works all things according to the counsel of His own will means it for our good (Genesis 50:20).
8. According to Romans 8:31 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that God is for us and that if God is for us nothing can be against us.
9. According to Romans 8:32 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that if God did not spare His own Son from the cross or from drinking the full cup of His wrath against our sins on the cross, he will freely give us everything we need to handle the challenges of life; we know that God will not abandon us.
10. According to Romans 8:33 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that Satan nor anyone or anything else can bring a charge against us that will stand up in the court of our God.
11. According to Romans 8:34 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that Christ died for us, was raised again for us and that He now is at the right hand of God interceding for us, representing us, defending and protecting us.
12. According to Romans 8:35 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that our present sufferings can’t separate us from Christ and His love. As illustrated in one section of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Satan wants to use the difficulties we experience in life to cause us to question His love for us and drive us from Christ. However, when rightly considered they do no such thing. Instead they drive us to Christ who in the midst of our sufferings proves Himself to be our sympathetic, dedicated, faithful refuge and strength, our ever present companion and sustainer who shows compassion and concern and provides the grace we need to press on toward the mark of our high calling in Christ. It is in the context of difficulty that we experience in a new and fresh way the comfort of the One who is the good shepherd of His people. It is in the context of difficulty that Christ restores our souls, leads us beside the still waters, uses His rod and staff to sustain us in the valley experiences of life, provides for us even when attacked by enemies, heals our wounds, causes our cup of blessing to run over, showers us with His goodness and mercy and gives us assurance of our final destination – living in the very immediate presence of God..
13. According to Romans 8:37 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that we can overcome whatever comes our way through Christ who loves us. We know that we can handle anything that comes our way because He has promised to give us the strength we need; He has promised that His grace will be sufficient; that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9 – 10; Isaiah 41:10). Think carefully about these truths I’ve mentioned in this post; let them grab hold of your heart and let them motivate you to give thanks in everything.
You can have a life that brings maximum glory to God; you can have a life that makes a maximum impact for Christ on others; you can have a life that will bring maximum joy to you. But if you want that to be true of you, you must make it a practice to regularly reflect on the biblical reasons you have for giving thanks in everything and then you must on a daily basis train yourself to do it by actually opening your mouth and telling others of God’s goodness to you.
Next time: what is it that hinders us from giving thanks in everything? I welcome you to put any of your suggestions in the comments section of this blog.