1 Thessalonians 5:18 | GIVE THANKS
Today is City Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday. What a great time it is to thank God: God has brought us to the last week of 2020 and we have 2021 ahead of us.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Obviously, sin falls outside the purview of that command. Apart from sin, everything else should precipitate an attitude and an expression of thanks to God.
Jesus Is A Great Illustration Of Thankfulness
Everything that Jesus had, everything that came His way good and bad, even including the cross, was from the Father.
Matthew 11:26-27 26Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 27“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
At the grave of Lazarus, Jesus prayed: John 11:41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.”
At that Last Supper when He established the Communion service: Luke 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
If we have received Jesus as Lord, we ought to walk the way He walked, we read. And, perhaps, then we should turn to an illustration of the gratitude of Jesus Himself.
Apostle Paul Is An Example Of Someone Who Gave Thanks
Illustration: Paul and Silas in Acts 16 are in the Philippian jail. They were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. That’s the gratitude pouring out of them, the joy pouring out of them in the midst of the worst imaginable suffering.
It always sort of surprises me a little bit to read how Paul began his letter to the Corinthians. The Corinthians just shattered his heart, time and time and time again. If there was a church for which Paul would not have been thankful, it would have been that one, and yet he begins the letter:
1 Corinthians 1:4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.
He was able to rise above the pain that they inflicted upon him. They were the most heartbreaking bunch in the whole New Testament.
The Early Church Made Thanksgiving An Essential Part Of Their Fellowship
Paul is describing a church service in the early church, and he’s describing some of the things that ought to go on and some of the things that ought not to go on. But among those things he defines a time in the service when you give thanks.
1 Corinthians 14:16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying?
1 Corinthians 14:17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.
So, here we find that a part of the early church service was the giving of thanks. There was a time probably allotted where people stood up and gave thanks to God.
We Are Commanded To Give Thanks To God In Everything
So we’re talking here about this constant attitude of gratitude and this constant expression of thanks. This is a command in the scripture.
Ephesians 5:3-4 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:18-20 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament sacrificial system according to Leviticus 7, there were sin offerings and “thank offerings” or “peace offerings.” And they were reminders that the people continually needed to be cleansed and also be thankful to God for all His merciful and gracious provisions for their spiritual and physical needs.
Now as Christians, we don’t have those kinds of offerings anymore. We basically have only one ceremony, one sacrament that relates to this apart from the one-time baptism. That is the Lord’s Table. The Lord’s Table is a way of combining both of those elements of the Old Testament system. It is a reminder of our sin. Also, the Lord’s Table is also for the expression of thanks for a believer.
God has taken our sins and we must be thankful to God for the same.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
You’ve got some problems that could create anxiety for you, don’t be anxious about it; just start praying, start supplicating before God, but be thankful in the process.
Colossians 2:6-7 6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 4:1-2 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. 2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Gratitude just flows from the Spirit-filled person. Thanksgiving is the essence of Christian living.
Ungrateful Attitude Is The Attitude Of The Nonbelievers
being unthankful is the very essence of the unregenerate heart.
Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
2 Timothy 3:2 1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
What defines unregenerate people? Right in the middle is “thanklessness.” The unsaved man goes through life complaining, going through life bitter, angry. His life moves along a path of trying to manipulate the world around him to satisfy. Such people will never thank God.
What Hinders A Thankful Heart?
Doubts About God
Selfish people cannot thank God. Selfish attitude is the inability to say, “Lord, Your will be done.” Jesus said, “Father, if there is any way to get out of this, if there’s any way that this cup can pass from me, I would like that; nevertheless Your will be done.”
Selfishness says, “I really don’t care what Your will is, this is what I want.” “I want to be God and I want to call the shots. I want to make the choice.” That will hinder your gratitude.
It’s getting caught up in the pleasures, and the people, and the places, and the possessions, and the pursuits, and the popularity, and the prestige that define human life. God and Christ don’t fill your vision. It’s not like David in Psalm 16:8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
As long as Christ is the object of everything, I’m going to be thankful. But when I get my eyes on the world and I begin to measure out my life in terms of what in the world I get or don’t get, my gratitude disappears.”
A Critical Spirit
If you are a negative person, if you’re a bitter person, it’ll destroy a thankful heart. It’ll destroy your relationships.
A critical attitude, a judgmental attitude, a condemning attitude corrodes spirituality.
Some people don’t give thanks because their perception is that God is not operating on their schedule. They want everything on their schedule, on their timetable.
What Are The Motives For Our Gratitude?
God is almighty, He’s working everything to your good. He is holy, is perfect, He never makes a mistake.
Also, God is so merciful toward us and so gracious toward us and so good to us, that we have every reason to believe that even in our pain and our suffering He has good intentions.
Psalm 106:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
You can give thanks to the Lord because He’s good, and that means everything He does is for our good.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.
Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
We Thank God For The Gift Of Christ
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
So we’re thankful for God, for His character, for Christ. We’re thankful for all the good gifts that the Lord gives us.
2 Corinthians 4:15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. What he means there is that as people receive God in salvation, it leads to redounding thanksgiving.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Not only do you have salvation but you have everything. God has poured out everything in life: Home, bread, clothes, family; and the result of all that God doing in your life should be unending thanksgiving.
Even in the times of trouble we are to thank God. Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Even in the times of great anxiety, in the times of great fear and worry and stress, you’re to be characterized as thankful.
And when we thank God consistently, faithfully, constantly in every situation, we’re manifesting a Spirit-controlled life.
God is glorified, we’re blessed, the church is built up, and lost people are being reached. Nothing more wonderful than to maintain a joyful, grateful attitude, so that the people can see that God has truly transformed our lives.
Now let’s back to 1 Thessalonians 5 where Paul says us to give thanks in everything.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Here we find the responsibility of the believer before the Lord in terms of his heart attitude. You give thanks because there is inward incessant joy, continual unceasing prayer, constant daily thanks. I mean, that’s to be the character and the pattern of our life. They’re the best gauge of a person’s spiritual condition.
We’re rejoicing all the time, because God is in control of it all. We’re giving thanks all the time, because He’s in control of it all. Can we spend time today specifically thanking God for this year 2020.