Summary: One of the greatest privileges of being a Christian is to have the capacity to give thanks regardless of what happens.
Thankful in Every Circumstance: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"In everything give rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Have you ever noticed that people who are 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, but two different perspectives.
What perspective do you have in life? Your job? Your home?
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" (1 Thessalonians 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 wanted 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 that God is in control of whatever might happen to him. Paul wrote, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). A lot of times, we focus on whats going wrong at the moment instead of acknowledging the good. Some people live in fear because of the crazy world we live in today. Focus on Jesus and depend on Him for your strength.
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" (Galatians 2:20). Paul knew that many of his former pleasures were actually self-destructive vices. We must cut off any and every stumbling block in our lives. Don’t literally cut off your hand or pluck out your eye, but throw away your computer if you struggle with pornography, cut off your T.V. if that is your sin. We must also realize that a stumbling block could be to much of something good. If you love to read, that’s great. But if you are putting your reading ahead of your family and a relationship with God, it is becoming a stumbling block!
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" (Philippians 3:7-8). Every encounter can either make us bitter or better. Know that God allows certain events in our life to either purify your faith or to be an example in someone else’s life. God has a provision for your life and Satin can only do what God allows. Learn from these trials.
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"(Philippians 3:10). Try to see every situation in light of eternity. Paul was in jail, yet shared the Gospel with the guards and other prisoners.
5. Paul was more of a 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 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 could become a catalyst for developing great Godly character, wisdom, and holiness.
7. 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.