Summary: Have you ever noticed that people who habitually ungrateful are stranger to happiness?
How To Give Thanks in Every Circumstance
1 Thessalonians 5:16-5:18 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
Have you ever noticed that people who habitually ungrateful are stranger to happiness?
Illustration: One day a TV reporter asked a mason, "How do you like your job? I hate it, he said. Its this most boring job in the world." That same reporter asked another mason on the other sided of the building the same question. "Oh its great because I see myself building an architectural masterpiece." Same situation, two different perspectives.
One of the greatest privileges of being a Christian is to have the capacity to give thanks regardless of what happens. It is easy to be thankful when things are going our way, but a Christian can rise above any situation to thank God for causing all things work together for good. Paul, the apostle, was a man who suffered a great deal of pain and yet he wrote, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (I Thes. 5: 16-18) What are some of the secrets Paul used to follow his own advice.
1. Paul put his emotional, mental and spiritual focus on the good things He had in Christ. It would have been easy for Paul to feel sorry for himself. The Jews sought to put Paul to death. The Romans hunted him like a dog and imprisoned him with chains. Even his best friends deserted him, yet he gave thanks for every situation because He knew God is in control of whatever might happen to him. Paul wrote, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21)
2. Paul died to his own selfish interests. The great apostle wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:20) Paul knew that many of his former pleasures were actually self-destructive vices.
3. Paul allowed every circumstance to teach Him more about Christ and His will. The church planting apostle wrote, "Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Phil. 3:7,8) Every encounter can either make us bitter or better.
4. Paul saw every problem as an opportunity to advance God’s kingdom and righteousness. Paul wrote, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.""(Phil. 3:10)
5. Paul was more of harvester than a maintenance man in his thinking. The cross-cultural evangelist saw difficulties through the lens of opportunity to advance Christ’s church in quantity and quality. He thanked God for difficulties as they showed him how to avoid sins of omission.
6. Paul thanked God for everything as it directed Him back to Christ’s priorities. Paul wrote, "As sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; having nothing and yet possessing everything." (2 Cor. 6:8-10) Paul knew that the things of the world pale in comparison with the riches that we have in doing the will of God. Do not settle for second best ministries.
7. Paul thanked God for everything because He knew whom He believed and was persuaded that He could keep everything He had entrusted to Him. (2 Tim. 1:12) The great writer of many New Testament epistles knew that whatever He had done for Jesus would be kept securely as a reward waiting for him in heaven. Only the Lord is able to make a promise and guarantee it completely.
8. Paul thanked God in every situation because He knew that God could use it to bring greater maturity, wisdom and usefulness. The pace-setting apostle taught that every hardship can become a catalyst for developing great Godly character, wisdom and holiness.
9. Paul thanked God for every trial because He knew it would result in a greater witness for Jesus Christ. The Godly apostle knew that the Lord would use Paul’s experiences for the advancement of the gospel and Christ’s greater purposes. Christians always win when Christ triumphs.
10. Paul sang songs of thanksgiving and praise to God in prison and found joy. The overflowing joy expressed in Paul’s songs led others to Christ and allowed prisoners to go free. Your thankful attitudes have an infectious way of contributing greatly to others blessings.
11. Paul rejoiced in the Lord. His thankfulness was not conditioned on any circumstance. He gave great praise to God because of His wonderful attributes, works and words. Paul knew that all eternity would not be enough time to thank God for who He is - the great I am. The alpha and omega. The King of kings. The Lord of lords!