1 Thess. 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
The life of a son/daughter of God should be a life of thanksgiving. Frequently on the pages of scripture we are exhorted to give thanks to the Father and to continue therein without ceasing (Col. 1:12; 1Thess. 2:13). We are taught the joy that attends a thankful spirit and are given to understand the utter chaos of mind and action that results when we slip into a grumbling disposition of heart. Furthermore, a careful attendance to God’s word will reveal that ingratitude is destructive. It is a byproduct of a choice of mind that denies God the glory of His ‘God-ness’ as we exchange the knowledge of Him and His things for the vanity of fleshly imaginations and the foolishness of a darkened heart (Rom. 1:21). It is with a conscience sanctified by truth and a mind transformed by grace that the fruit of our lips will offer up sacrifices to God continually as we give thanks to His name (Rom. 12:2; Heb. 13:15).
Now we all know we should be thankful. Even a cursory reading of the epistles will give us a sense that thankfulness should be the norm for the son/daughter, and while we may consent unto these exhortations in mind, it is often unflatteringly apparent that we fall short in the doing of it (2Cor. 8:11). We are quick to murmur and, though not desirously, we allow our flesh to express its discontent with our discomforts. We find ourselves frustrated and (to borrow Paul’s expression) how to perform that which is good [we] find not (Rom. 7:18). It is soon that we realize that the admonition to thanksgiving alone is insufficient to change our spirits, and while the exhortations to thankfulness may sting us in our moment of complaint, the conscience sting alone will never transform our minds if that is all we receive.
It is my understanding that in accordance with the way God has designed human beings to function, we must of necessity realize that the fruit of thanksgiving is not the result of a dry command or even a repeated exhortation. While there is something to be said for repetition, it can amount to nothing more than vanity if it is devoid of God’s power (Matt. 6:7). We need an effectual work to transform our minds if we are to be made into thankful saints, and this requires more than simply wrapping the weakness of the law in the cloak of grace terminology by repetitious words that are without effectual power.
Thanksgiving, as described by our Father, is not a leaky faucet that drips from a loosened seal, but rather an abounding fountain that expels from an internal supply of power that cannot be contained or constrained by external pressures. We are to abound in thankfulness, and this is sourced from within, not from without! It is the result of an abundant knowledge of God and His things. To give thanks in everything, especially when we live in a world that provides much adversity for our flesh, we must possess an inner understanding of who God is and be throughly versed in His perspectives on the whys’ and wherefores’ as they relate to His dealings in the world today.
What I am talking about is not a shallow expression of thanks that sits upon the surface of fair weather circumstances and utters its voice in a generic way in response to some stimulus, but rather I am speaking of a deep gratitude toward our Father that results from being able to view every circumstance from His perspective and evaluate it with His mind (1Cor. 2:6). It is when we are able to see, with spiritually enlightened eyes, the good that He has purposed to work for us in all things, and when we are able to behold the godly potential stored up for our exercise in every situation that we then can be truly thankful in every thing.
When we are able to truthfully reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us because we understand what those sufferings mean to Him, we then can rather glory in [our] infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon [us] and be thankful in them (Rom. 8:18; 2Cor. 12:9). When we understand in particular detail how that, in all things, God is for us and how that His love has sealed us to Himself never to be separated by any charge, nor condemnation, nor tribulation we can be fully persuaded and thankful in everything we encounter (Rom. 8:28,31,33, 35, 38-39). When we perceive the truth of the spiritual union we have to Christ as members one of another, we can be thankful for every member of the body and the office it fulfills (Rom. 12:3-5). When we understand the present dispensation of God’s grace and peace toward His enemies, we can remain thankful while suffering at the hands of ours, reserve our wrath and bestow goodness toward them (Rom. 5:6-10; 12:17-21). When we comprehend the ordinance of God in human government, we can be thankful for the Father’s purpose therein while we yet live in this present evil world with its political corruptions (Rom. 13:1-7; Gal. 1:4; 1Tim. 2:1-2). When we see the constraining love of Christ and comprehend it in truth, we can be thankful for the opportunity to limit our liberty for the edification of our brethren as we look on the things of others as extensions of our Father’s charity (Rom. 14; Phl. 2:4).
It is in these details of the Father’s mind as presented to us in His word with respect to these and many other such like things that we will have our minds renewed and our spirits quickened to know how to fulfill God’s will by giving thanks in every thing. It is when our faith in His things worketh by love that we will then truly experience the joy that attends a thankful heart. Beloved, this is His will in Christ Jesus concerning you, and I pray that ye…stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (1Thess. 5:18; Col. 4:12).