1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 is a group of tremendous passages summing up the life of a Christ follower. What it means, how it should look, and why it will matter to those in your life. It comes as no surprise that one of the main aspects of this passage is to be thankful, in everything. And I love how the author makes that note clear. Not just to be thankful, but to emphasize being thankful in everything. Do you know what “everything” includes? It includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Sounds strange to be thankful for those not so good times, but the tough times can turn into the empowering lessons in life.
What I love about this passage is everything lines up with thankfulness. And each instruction has thankfulness at the foundation of the practice.
Words such as, acknowledge, care, admonish, love and peace, encourage, help, patience, do good, rejoice, and give thanks. All of these words lead up to thankfulness, to cap the list of instructions for living a Godly life. In everything, be thankful! While you love and acknowledge, be thankful. While you are doing good and showing patience, be thankful. Rejoice and encourage, while being thankful. There is much power in being thankful. Being thankful in all things generates even more power and momentum in our lives because it creates something in us; it creates perspective. And perspective is they key. Perspective keeps you grounded in Christ when things fall into place, and it lifts you up when those same things fall out of place. Thankfulness is next to Godliness because thankfulness always draws us closer to Him!
In my own life, with tragedies and disappointments I have endured, I had a choice in how I responded. I could be bitter and angry. Or, I could alter my perspective and be thankful for what I did have at that time. And then looking back, I could be thankful for how I’ve grown from those situations and how they have strengthened me. We are always going to face difficult circumstances and life experiences in a fallen world. But, we get the choice on how we respond. When we endure hardships, we truly only have 2 choices. We can get bitter, or we can get better. One choice draws us closer to God, one choice pushes Him out of our lives. One choice allows us to stand firm upon Him, the other allows us to scoot a little further away.
If we want life, and life to the fullest in Him, then thankfulness has to be at the core of who we are. It has to be spilling out of our lips. If you don’t believe me, TRY IT! Take one day, and thank every single person you talk to for something. The gas station attendant, your annoying coworker, the waitress at the restaurant. When you aren’t talking to anyone, find something to thank God for. (If you have trouble with this part, start with this phrase: “thank you God for allowing me to breathe this breath, and to breather consistently.” See where that takes you). Be thankful, it will change your perspective. It will change your thought process. It will change your life! And I can guarantee you this, it will change everything for the better.
As we close out the day, I encourage you to read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 and Psalms 33. Read them in different versions, listen to them, read the words aloud, sing them if you want to. Allow thankfulness to become as natural as breathing. The benefits will be encouraging. Your countenance will change. Those who interact with you will be happier and they will want to be around you more. And you will begin to feel closer and closer to God. What do you have to lose? Try it!
Check out this Ted Talk for more information, some science and a beautiful story behind choosing Thankfulness.