In my last post in this series, I defined unthankfulness, discussed why it was a sin, and look at what it would lead to. In this post, I am going to discuss when we are to give thanks.
When are we to give thanks?
(1) ALWAYS & IN EVERYTHING – Ephesians 5:20 tells us that we are to give thanks always and in everything. For all the blessings God gives us, we are to give thanks to Him.
(2) IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES – We are not only to give thanks to God for the blessings He pours out on our lives, but we are to give thanks to Him in all circumstances. In Paul’s final benediction and instruction to the Thessalonians, he tells them to:
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:18).
This means no matter what is taking place in your life, whether it be good or bad, you are to give thanks to God. We can give thanks to God in these difficult circumstances because of Romans 8:28-29; 38-39.
In vs 28-29 Paul writes,
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
When we look at Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in light of these verses in Romans 8, we see that we can give thanks in all situations because God works all things together for good.
The good Paul refers to here is found in vs 29, and it refers to conforming us to the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Since all circumstances are used by God to conform, or grow, us into the image of His Son, we can give thanks in all circumstances.
Commenting on this verse, Jerry Bridges says,
“So in situations that do not turn out the way we hoped, we are to give God thanks that He will use the situation in some way to develop our Christian character. We don’t need to speculate as to how He might use it, for His ways are often mysterious and beyond our understanding. So by faith in the promise of God in Romans 8:28-29, we obey the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in [all] circumstances”.
We not only can give thanks because of Romans 28-29, but we can give thanks because of Romans 8:38-39, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So then, no matter what we face in this life, if we are truly God’s children, nothing can separate us from Him, which means we can look forward to spending eternity with Him free from whatever terrible circumstances we have faced here on this earth.
As we have seen in these verses, we should develop the habit of continually giving thanks to God for everything we have and in all situations we find ourselves. For it is ultimately God who has given us everything we possess. This includes both tangible (possessions, job, family, etc) and intangible (intellectual and athletic ability, place we were born, etc) things.
Since God works all things together for good for all those who are in Christ Jesus, and since no circumstance can separate a true Christian from God, we should continually give thanks, knowing that even the worst circumstances we face are being worked together for our growth in Christlikeness. As well as no circumstance we face will pull us away from our Lord and Savior, whom we will spend all eternity worshipping and praising.
So may we always give thanks, never forgetting our all gracious and merciful Lord.
Questions for Reflection
- What are some circumstances that you would not think to give thank to give God thanks in?
- When you give thanks to God, is it heartfelt or nominal?
- Do you believe everything you have has come from the hand of God or do you believe you have earned some or most of what you have by hard work?
Scripture to Memorize
Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Romans 8:28-29; 38-39.
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 85.