“Thank You, God for . . . .” And, then we start listing. We begin with our family members, dog, cat, family members further removed, then food, clothing, house, car, things . . . friends, job, nature, more things . . . .
We’re truly thankful, and that's good. The Bible says, Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). We’re supposed to be thankful for every thing.
Give thanks to God for all things.
In Jesus’ Name.
There’s a lot to ponder, here. While we may be truly grateful for our things (people included), are we actually praising God, praying in Jesus’ Name in thanks for them? It would be a great habit, don’t you think?
But, it’s not only about the list. We’re thankful for this and that and him and her, but there’s another command that’s a little more complicated. Let’s read it: In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The word In can mean “in, by, or with.” This is talking about circumstances—every circumstance. You could say it this way, “In the midst of everything give thanks.”
This is about being content, about acknowledging the will of God in our lives. (Read the rest of the verse above.) The Apostle Paul wasn’t exactly in the Philippi Hilton when he wrote this: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Philippians 4:11). He was in prison!
A well-known verse that comes to mind is Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Do you know the context? The passage is addressing persecution. All things work together for good . . . for Christians? The passage says we know that!
So we’re supposed to be thankful
For all things and
In everything . . . even in persecution, since we know it’s working together for good.
How does this change our Thankful List?
It makes us understand that whatever God brings into our lives, He’s doing a work through it. We might be in prison, like Paul. We might be persecuted, like the Christians in Rome. (Remember the Emperor Nero and the Colosseum?) We don’t have to have perfect circumstances. We give thanks, no matter what.
It’s interesting that God’s Word refers to the “sacrifice” of thanksgiving in nine verses. (Leviticus 7:12-13, 15; 22:29; Psalm 107:22; 116:17; Amos 4:5; Jonah 2:9; Hebrews 13:15) Sacrifice? Is it a sacrifice to be thankful? In all these verses, we’re reminded of the Old Testament system of sacrifices to God. There was a sacrifice of thanksgiving in appreciation for the Lord’s provisions. You can think of sacrifice as an "offering." Interestingly enough, in the New Testament, Hebrews 13:15 is also in this same context. Let’s read it: For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Hebrews 13:11-15).
This is rich! When we read that last verse, it begins with By him therefore. By means “through.” Through Jesus—the Son of God, Who sacrificed Himself for us—we offer the sacrifice of praise to God. How often? Continually! What is this sacrifice of praise? It’s giving thanks to his name. Whose name? Jesus’ Name.
I wonder how many of us are:
- Thanking God for everything
- Thanking God in every circumstance, and
- Giving the sacrifice of praise—thanking Jesus continually.
That’s the kind of thanks God wants to hear!
Note: Word meanings are from Online Bible.