Summary: Why and how can and should we rejoice and give thanks in whatever circumstances. Why, because of the gospel. How, by, while holding to the gospel, keeping the new commandment

Why and how do we rejoice and give thanks?

As I share the word of God with you, I pray that you and I may experience "being Spirit-filled." I am very confident that we would experience that as we pay all our attention to the word of God, which I am going to share. The bible says, "Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1Th 5:16-18)

As we reflect on these verses, we have to notice at least three things here. First, we are not merely to rejoice, pray, and give thanks, but do it always, without ceasing, and in everything. In other words, we are commanded to rejoice, pray, and give thanks regardless of our circumstances and situations. Apostle Paul is describing here our lifestyle as Christian, which involves every aspect of our lives.

Secondly, we also have to remember that this command was given to every Christian. It didn't say, "this is God's will for some of you." Just as God commanded every Christian to be Spirit-filled, so did God with this command. Living a Spirit-filled life should be the norm for every Christian. By the same token, according to Paul, rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in whatever circumstances should characterize the life of every Christian.

Thirdly, this command wasn't given to an individual but the church. This command should characterize not only our individual lifestyle as a Christian but also our church. Such being the case, is our church known for such life? Is our church rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks to God in everything?

Before we answer the question, let me define what is to rejoice always and give thanks in everything. Does God suggest here that we live a life with a positive perspective? Even nonbelievers say such things: live a life focused on positive things enjoying your life, rejoicing and giving thanks, etc. Many of those nonbelievers seem to live such a life more so than even the believers. They say you can maintain a positive attitude about your life despite the difficult circumstances you may be in. They may suggest, for example, that you compare yourself with those who are in worse cases. They may suggest that you give thanks by remembering when things used to be worse and harder, or you comfort yourself thinking about what might have been worse.

I acknowledge it's generally commendable to maintain a positive perspective despite the circumstances. At the same time, this isn't what Paul meant by giving thanks in whatever circumstances and rejoicing always. You might say Paul had a positive perspective on all circumstances and situations. Still, he never suggested that we compare our circumstances with those of others or other times to come up with reasons to be thankful or rejoice.

If Paul was not talking about a positive perspective, then what did he talk about? Was he then simply saying, "rejoice and give thanks" unconditionally and without thinking or reasoning? I don't think this either is what he meant. Whether you are Christian or not, for you to rejoice and give thanks, you have to have a reason or condition for rejoicing and giving thanks. It doesn't matter who you are, but when you rejoice and give thanks, I repeat, there must be a reason or condition for that.

This being the case, Paul was saying there is reason to be thankful in everything and rejoice always. We can give thanks and rejoice for relatively good things and conditions from time to time, but not always nor in everything. One shouldn't expect you always to rejoice and give thanks in every circumstance unless you have an exceptional condition and reasons to do that.

This very special condition or reason must have at least three characteristics if we want to rejoice and thankful always.

First, this exceptional reason has to be something unchanging or constant. You may give thanks and rejoice over something changing; then you may not another time. You may be thankful for your health, but you can't rejoice over your health forever because it changes at any moment.

Secondly, this should be not only unchanging but also good. Like hell, though unchanging, it can't be the reason for rejoicing and giving thanks.

Thirdly, this should also be more important than anything else. I mean it has to have an absolute value. Suppose you inherited a billion dollars. Probably, you would live and die as rich, which means you have something unchanging and good. However, if you lost your health or your loved one, your money wouldn't be much help to be thankful.

Thus, if you want to live a life rejoicing and to give thanks to God even when you lost your money, health, and even loved one, you must have a reason or value which is more important than those

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