“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
Every day of a Christian’s life, there is reason for joy. The cross of Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice there, is all we ever need to rejoice in any circumstance. No matter what we face in life, there will always be reason to say, “thank you,” and to be filled with joy in light of the cross.
The dictionary defines gratitude as a warm or deep appreciation of personal kindness shown to one. Thankful is defined as a disposition to express gratitude by giving thanks. Thankfulness, therefore, can be described as the outward expression of gratitude. Gratitude happens in the heart, and thankfulness on the lips. Unfortunately, often our focus is on saying “thank you” and not on actually being grateful.
Scripture teaches that man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart of a person. He can see through a mindless “thank you” spoken by habit into our hearts. He knows whether we are truly grateful for His sacrifice. This passage reminds us that it is God’s will that we give thanks in all circumstances. So how do we cultivate gratitude in all things? The verse begins, “Be joyful always, pray continually…” Joy, like gratitude, is an inward contentment that is only found in Christ. This is why Paul connects joy and thanksgiving with continual prayer. Constant communion with the Father brings joy. And the overflow of joy is gratitude and thanksgiving.
Paul is not suggesting that we be happy because of hardship, but rather in spite of it. The command is to give thanks in the circumstance, not necessarily for the circumstance. Gratitude enables us to see past any situation to what it can produce in us eternally. Deeper faith, compassion, humility, and perseverance are just some benefits of trials.
Is “thank you” the fruit of your lips or of your heart? No matter what we face, in Christ, there are always thousands of reasons to say “thank you.”
Father, Your grace and goodness never run out. Your faithfulness is the foundation of my life. Thank You for creating me, loving me, saving me, and preparing a place for me in heaven. Please make me more mindful of Your presence today. In Jesus’ name, amen.