We are coming into a season where we are asked to think about the things in our lives that we are thankful for. We will soon see “thankful lists” all over social media, and you might even share what you are thankful for around the table at Thanksgiving with family and friends.
All of these things are great exercises, but it is important to remember that being thankful is more than a passing thought around the holidays. Being thankful is a mindset—it is a way of life!
Being thankful comes from a grateful heart and a disciplined mind.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
In everything. Even the trials and tribulations we face every single day.
The Apostle Paul, who lived through much more difficult circumstances than most of us will ever have to face, was reminding his readers to not only BE thankful, but to GIVE thanks. That is, to express your thanks, even for those things it is difficult to be grateful for!
It is so easy for us to voice our complaints. We would prefer the Apostle Paul to have said: “…in everything complain…”
But that is not what he said!
He said in everything—good times, hard times, difficult decisions, painful seasons, joyful celebrations, times of plenty, times of lack, times of fear—give thanks.
Long lists of things we are thankful for help give us a right perspective on our own circumstances, but even if the list was empty, God wants us to give thanks because of our salvation. Fortunately, I can venture to guess that for most of us, the list is not empty and is in fact quite long with the simple blessings the Lord has bestowed on us.
We can be thankful for food, family, friends, shelter, sunshine and rain. And when we give thanks, we are birthing peace into even the most hostile atmosphere.
When we are feeling anxious, the Apostle Paul again reminds us to pray with thanksgiving.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God…”—Philippians 4:8
Even while he was in prison in Rome, Paul knew that letting God know what we need is so much more powerful and positive than complaining to our family, friends, and co-workers about what we are lacking. He challenges us to talk to God in this way, but to do so in a spirit of thanksgiving.
If you have ever had children ask you for something, you know there are two types of requests—those that come from a place of childlike joy and excitement, and those that come from a place of childish selfishness and entitlement. God wants us to express our hearts to Him! He wants us to ask when we have a need! But as His children, we are to come to Him with hearts that are thankful for the gift of our salvation, and not entitled to the blessings that we believe He owes to us.
Claiming promises from His Word and demanding entitlement are two very different things. When we claim promises, we are coming to God in faith and humility standing on the scripture and knowing that God is faithful to His Word.
Likewise, an entitled heart comes to God demanding the fulfillment of promises because of a form of self-righteousness where we believe that our sacrifices and obedience mean we have earned God’s blessing.
When you go to God today, meet Him with praise and thanksgiving, because ALL good gifts come from Him! Ask with faith. Ask with hope. Ask with humility. Ask with thankful hearts!
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.”—Psalm 106:1