“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of Godin Christ Jesus concerning you.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (KJV, emphasis mine)
As we consider today’s passage of Scripture, let’s continue to consider some proactive measures that would inoculate us from the infection of ingratitude. Paul already has promoted the practice of rejoicing in the Lord in all circumstances. When this practice is an authentic and consistent course of action, especially in times of adversity, it advertises the Almighty and gracious God in our lives. So when we say “God is good all the time and all the time, God is good” it will not be just a cliché.
Paul also points out that a persistent prayer life is paramount. I make it a practice to share with the body of Christ at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship in Delray Beach, Florida that our prayers should always be balanced between what I call begging mode and blessing mode. Don't get me wrong, I know that there will be circumstances or situations that drive us to our knees asking the Lord to intercede on our behalf. But our benevolent and merciful God beckons us to give Him our petitions and requests with faith and thanksgiving.
“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:5-7 (KJV)
Have you ever considered how the majority of your prayers are petitions to God rather than praises to God? We must make sure to maintain an appropriate balance in our prayer lives.
Did you also notice that our text turns our attention to the discipline of thanksgiving? Taking is easy but giving thanks is tough when we are surrounded by a culture of ingratitude. Thanking God for everything is indeed radical living and something that is unnatural for us in our flesh. While a consistent attitude of thanksgiving is unnatural but the supernatural (Holy Spirit) can make this a reality in our lives. Selfishness or the natural man screams: “Take what is yours, you deserve it!” But the man influenced by the supernatural shares and gives liberally because he recognizes that it all belongs to God! Take a moment and consider what it means that everything belongs to God. Everything includes spiritual and physical resources, interpersonal and personal relationships, achievements and accolades, blessings and judgments. It all belongs to God. To God be the glory! Therefore it is consistent with His will and we are in His will when we give thanks for everything!
It must be noted that Paul is not endorsing thanking God for evil and catastrophic events but to thank God because even in evil times and tragic circumstances our hope and anchor hold firm when they are found in God. Even in difficulty, we must believe that God continues His work in our lives and He is always right and good.
“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.” – Romans 8:28 (KJV)
This Scripture is not a catch phrase or Christian cliché but a concrete conviction!
In closing, consider the following six spiritual steps that will help you to activate the vaccine of victory over ingratitude:
- Take time to touch God with thanksgiving in everything rather than being consumed with taking (Phil. 5:18).
- Have a heart that hopes in all circumstances (Phil. 5:18)
- Always enjoy a heart of joy (Phil. 5:16)
- Embrace the thought that Paul’s exhortations are not a suggestion but a command from the Lord (Phil. 5:18)
- Keep a persistent prayer life (Phil. 5:17)
- Do not suppress the Spirit, instead, salute and submit to Him (Phil. 5:19).
Not a Sermon But a Thought,