Why Are We Commanded to Be Thankful?
Do we realize that the Bible actually commands us to be thankful? Shouldn’t this be a voluntary action? What does God think about this subject and what has He inspired to be written down in His Holy Word? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (New International Version).
Why would God have inspired Paul to write this? In this fifth chapter, Paul is exhorting the Thessalonian brethren to continue living in a Godly manner. He is spelling out for them the things that they should keep in mind and practice in their Christian walk. One of the most challenging things to do is to remain thankful in every situation we encounter.
But how can we get into this state of mind?
It comes down to our willingness to obey God and our desire to serve in whatever capacity that we can. Paul was confident that it was God who gave him strength and that he was given the opportunity to be appointed to the service of God. He was thankful that even though he suffered mightily, he was not afraid to continue on (1 Timothy 1:12).
The Scripture in 1 Thessalonians with which we started mentions that in every circumstance there is the opportunity (as well as God’s will) for us to give thanks. This doesn’t mean that our trials (numerous as they may be) will be easy. No, in fact, they will become even harder as we draw close to the end, and Satan wants to destroy us by any means possible. The words “hard” and “difficult” are often used to describe something negative. In many cases, that’s appropriate. It is hard to watch a loved one fall ill and suffer, or watch others struggle through their own trials. It is difficult when a family member or a pet dies. Some situations are all pain and seemingly insurmountable.
In Matthew 19:26 Christ exhorts the disciples that things with men are indeed impossible but that with God all things are possible. Learning a lesson in a trial is hard, but the process is to develop the ability within us and in our minds to become more like, and in tune with, God. It allows us to seek His Will more thoroughly. The easy path is more tempting; the difficult path is more rewarding.
Psalm 34 paints a picture of a time when David was feigning madness (1 Samuel 21:13-15) to get out of a situation that he got himself into, but look at his attitude. It was one of thanks and blessing for God for what he was going through, after God had delivered him, even though he had lied by his conduct. And despite many setbacks and failures, he never gave up on God and was always thankful. Ephesians 5:20 states that we should give thanks to God the Father for EVERYTHING.
It is easy to be thankful in good times. Deuteronomy 8:17-19 speaks of a warning that we should heed. When we stop being thankful, our hearts start to wander from God. Appreciating good things is really just being glad that we are benefiting from them. But being truly full of thanks requires looking beyond our blessings to the One who blesses us. It is about being full of gratitude for ALL situations that we find ourselves in, because God loves us and wants us to overcome ALL things so that we can make it into His Kingdom.
In Daniel 6:10, we read of Daniel who knew what the law of the land said, and yet he decided to obey God and give thanks, as was his custom. Just because some man-made law ordered something foolish and was not in accordance with God’s law, it did not stop him from doing what was his custom. This shows that Daniel was truly thankful to God from the very center of his being. He was willing to take that risk of praying and giving thanks because that is what centered him and gave him purpose.
We read about the children of Israel who were coming out of Egypt and how after an innumerable amount of miracles for them, they didn’t remember them nor were thankful. In fact, we find just the opposite. After Caleb and Joshua and the other ten spies came back, showing the good produce they had acquired, the ten men convinced the entire nation (literally a nation of people) not to go in as God had commanded. They were no longer thankful for the blessings but rather were ready to go back to Egypt. They were stuck in their way of thinking. Fear gripped them. They displayed no faith or resilience that God would give them the land as He had promised! This fear spread like wildfire until it consumed the entire assembly.
We must not act likewise, by forgetting everything and falling into the trap of being fearful. There really is no need for this. We will be faced with what we NEED to be faced with, so that we grow according to God’s Will.
God is willing to bless us. He wants to bless us. He wants to protect and lead us.
It is easy to be thankful when we are blessed… but how much more should we be thankful when we are in hard spots? We must come to the point where we are able to give God thanks for whatever we are going through, good or bad. For if we truly believe in God, we will believe that He has called us for a purpose; that He allows us to go through trials; and that He makes the ways of escape, as well as opportunities to do good. We must truly be thankful from our core. When we persevere, we will gradually come to see over time that both the trials and God’s answers and blessings will be for our good.
Lead Writer: Kalon Mitchell