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Echo Evangelique

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Living in Light of Christ’s return: Always Giving Thanks

Text: 1 Thess. 5:18

Key Concepts:

  • We are commanded to “give thanks in all things.”
  • Why is it difficult to always be thankful?
  • Reason why an attitude of thanksgiving is necessary
  • An attitude of thanksgiving works wonders against bitterness
  • There is confidence in Knowing who we are in Christ and what He means to us

 

If you knew the Rapture could occur today, how would you live?  How do you live in light of the imminent return of Christ? What should be the mood, attitude, and characteristics of those who are expecting the impending return of Christ? The Holy Spirit has not left us to guess the answers; rather, He’s instructed us through the Apostle Paul. There are no signs or major events that will precede the Rapture of the Church; it can happen at any time. Knowing this, Paul addressed a series of exhortations to teach us how to live in light of Christ’s return (1 Thess. 5:1-22). Christians are encouraged to be vigilant, sober, to be respectful to our spiritual leaders, to treat each other with patience, to admonish the unruly, comfort the fainthearted, and strengthen the weak as we prepare to meet our Savior. Furthermore, he commanded us to “rejoice always,” “pray without ceasing” and to “give thanks in all things; for this is the will of God for [us]” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

We are commanded to “give thanks in all things.”

Living in light of the return of Christ requires us to maintain an attitude of joy, a steady prayerful attitude that reveals a total dependence on God, and an attitude of thanksgiving in all things. We give thanks in all things, not just because we feel like it or find it easy to do but because that’s what’s required of us. These commands (to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all things) are given to Christians who care about the will of God. Since they are commands and are in the will of God for us, they require a heart of obedience. From out of the heart of obedience will flow an attitude of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. Rejoicing always is a reflection of God-given joy and peace. This joy is not available to bitter hearts.

 Why is it difficult to always be thankful?

Gratitude towards God is not a natural sentiment; something must happen to produce it. It is sad that even non-believers know that gratitude is due to one’s benefactor. Gratitude is one of the key concepts in positive psychology, it is a condition for sound mental health. It teaches appreciation and the ability to find good even in the bad experiences. Lucius Seneca, a secular philosopher condemns ingratitude as a great vice. He also identified the causes of ingratitude as having too high an opinion of oneself, greed, not knowing how to be content, being envious of others and feeling entitled. If you are unable to answer to these commands, check your heart. Your inability may be a reflection of the condition of your heart. Ingratitude and idolatry are listed in the Bible as the two major causes of man’s total depravity (Rom. 1:18-32). These twin sins, along with homosexuality and murder lead to moral catastrophe in human history. Paul identifies ungratefulness as one of the sins that will characterize the end times (2 Tim. 3:1-5). If you are a child of God, if you say you’ve been redeemed by the blood of Christ, such characteristics should not define you, especially while awaiting with great expectation the return of our Lord.

Reason why an attitude of thanksgiving is necessary

The reason we need to have a grateful heart is because without it we become self-centered and arrogant.  We start to cast aside God’s grace and accredit our successes to our intelligence, our diligence, our own strength, even our associations. By contrast a humble heart that gives credit where it is due is kept from greed and envy. As a result, we know we are undeserving of what we have been given and so we appreciate what we have. In fact, what do you have that you have not received (1 Cor. 4: 7)? We should be identified as people with deep gratitude – a gratitude that flows from our hearts and is abundantly evident in our prayers. Our supplication must always be accompanied with thanksgiving (Phil. 4). By counting your blessings in prayer, we develop the confidence that God will answer our prayers. This confidence calms our fears and anxieties. As we consider the favor, provisions, and faithfulness He has shown us both spiritually and materially, we find ourselves overflowing with thanksgiving and praise.

An attitude of thanksgiving works wonders against bitterness

A practice that will keep you from grumbling is to think back on where God has taken you. Start by looking at the places from which you came, the people God has used, the doors God has unlocked, the dangers from which he preserved you even as a child. By the time you go down the list all grumbling is quieted, all complaints stopped, all envy disappears, and all bitterness evaporates. This practice is not just for mental health but particularly for spiritual health as it gives the ability to be thankful in all things. According to Warren Wiersbe, an attitude of gratitude is a wonderful weapon against unbelief, disobedience, a hardened heart, and a bitter spirit.

There is confidence in Knowing who we are in Christ and what He means to us

Being grateful in all things, including in afflictions; may be impossible for the non-Christian, but for the Christian it is possible. After all, [we] “can do all things through him who strengthens [us] (Phil. 4:13).” Paul pens the word “rejoice” to those who were going through persecutions, afflictions, and calamities (1Thess 1:6; 2:14-16; 3:3-4,7). The child of God has to choose to obey Him and trust that He will provide the strength he/she needs to rejoice in the worst of circumstances. Indeed, no matter the storm or its intensity we must never willing to surrender our joy.

In conclusion….

Our rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving will be consistent with God’s will when we stay in His will. Indeed, we can be thankful in all things for no circumstances of our lives can be outside of His will; He either ordains or permits them. Whatever He allows or ordains, He has a purpose for. He is the sovereign God who controls our lives, actions, and circumstances. After all, “…all things work together for good to those who love God...” (Rom. 8:28). Knowing that we are in His will, we can say “thy will be done.” We already have His eternal blessings and favor, which cause any suffering we experience to be incomparable. We are forgiven by the blood of Christ; there is no commendation awaiting us, no accusation, and no separation. God is at work in all our circumstances. He’s promised to never leave nor forsake us. The Holy Spirit is challenging us to obey God’s will, to identify what keeps us from obeying and choosing to get rid of the obstacles. We can be thankful no matter our circumstances, for we are already victorious in Christ. May God grant us the wisdom to give thanks in all things.

 

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