Summary: So I believe it is not a stretch when I say tonight that it is an IMPERATIVE of the Christian walk that we Christians develop the habit of being thankful at all times in all circumstances.
Date Written: March 5, 2001
Date Preached: March 7, 2001
Church: BBC (PM) Wed Night
Series: Great Imperatives for the Christian Walk
Title: The Imperative of an Attitude of Gratitude
Text: 1 Thess 5:18
“…Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you…” [RSV]
A positive mental attitude is essential for the Christian to live the victorious Christian life that Christ intends us to live.
If we look at the Williams translation of this passage tonight it reads, “…Make it a habit to give thanks for everything…”
So I believe it is not a stretch when I say tonight that it is an IMPERATIVE of the Christian walk that we Christians develop the habit of being thankful at all times in all circumstances.
William Law said, “For it is certain that whatever calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.”
If we develop a habit of being thankful at all times, we will open the door so God can provide divine assistance during life’s tragedies and disappointments.
But for the human, thankfulness does not come easily; thankfulness is actually against our very nature. In fact the habit of thankfulness is a learned behavior on the part of the Christian…we must develop this habit by ‘learning how to do it.’
The first thing is that when disappointment or tragedy does come our way our first reaction is to complain and be depressed. I know that is my initial reaction to distressing news.
However, instead of reacting with complaining and depression, we need to take inventory of the things for which we can be thankful!
What Jesus has done for you, your salvation, your eventual home in heaven, God’s desire to use you in His kingdom work, the family God has blessed you with, the health that God gives you each day, the children in your care…and on and on we could go.
We must develop the habit of 1st dwelling on what God HAS blessed us with and not on what we desire and have not gotten!
If we can 1st learn to focus our thoughts on what we ARE blessed with it will help us to do the 2nd thing and that is for us to acquire a habit of giving thanks at ALL times.
In the story of the healing of the 10 lepers in Luke 17 Luke reveals to us that only 1 of the lepers had developed the habit of being thankful.
I see myself and most of us here tonight like the other 9 lepers who neglected to give thanks, even in a time when something very wonderful had happened to them.
Now I am sure that those 9 were relieved and thankful for the healing they received, but the problem was that they did not show it, they did not verbalize it.
It has been said if you hear something you retain approximately 20% of it after about 3-5 hours. However, when one hears and then there is an exercise to enhance and illustrate the verbal, you retain about 80% of the material.
Our thankfulness kept to ourselves does others no good and shows great disrespect to God. God knows our hearts, but just like prayer…this is part of the relationship that God wants us to come to Him and verbalize our thankfulness to Him. We must develop the habit of being openly and verbally thankful to God and others…even when the situation is not the best of times.
Why do we need to worry about this? Why is it so important for us to worry about our habits during a crisis? I believe that as disciples of Christ we must give attention to the habits we form and keep.
First of all bad habits do nothing but destroy our witness to the world and degrade our relationship with God and our fellow Christians.
I believe that we need to seriously work at developing our GOOD habits, not just getting rid of the bad ones, especially the habit of being thankful through all situations.
It was once said about human nature that 1st we make the habit and then the habit makes us. We must be about making the habit of being thankful at all times a vital part of our Christian walk!
But why develop this habit? I believe there is some wisdom that can be gained by the Christian by developing a habit of being thankful in all things.
The psalmist said in Ps 92.1, “…It is good to give thanks to the Lord…” However, not only is it a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, it is a good thing to give thanks to others around us. There are many benefits that come to those who develop the habit of counting their blessings and being thankful.