Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. There are endless family traditions associated with this season, but most include taking time to be thankful—for family, friends, health, our nation, and much more.
As hectic as grocery shopping can be in the days leading up to Thanksgiving Day, I enjoy this time because people don’t seem to be as self-absorbed. Nor do I see as many tunnel-visioned shoppers barreling through the isles with total disregard for others—downright dangerous at times! I see more smiles and less irritation. Added to this are the acts of kindness that seem to happen more frequently than normal. Given the hatred and divisiveness that pervades our culture these days, these expresses of thankfulness and kindness are all too welcome.
I wonder what would happen if this thankful spirit extended beyond the Thanksgiving season…through Christmas time and even into the new year? What if it continued during Spring, Summer, and all the way to Thanksgiving?
If you think I’m kidding, I’m not. It’s not only possible, but the Lord plainly says in Scripture that we should be thankful—always (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Admittedly, this seems like a tall order. But as I’ve studied the Bible over the years, I’ve learned that God never commands us to do anything without giving us the ability to accomplish it. How? Through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Consider Romans 8:11: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” If the Holy Spirit had the power to raise Jesus from the dead, don’t you think He can empower us to be more thankful? If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit inside you, always ready to help you become more like Jesus.
There’s a historical example that has always blessed me. Alexander Whyte, the Scottish preacher, always began his prayers with an expression of gratitude. One cold, miserable day his people wondered what he would say. He prayed, "We thank Thee, O Lord, that it is not always like this."
If you’re like me, there’s ample room to become a more thankful person. But how? There’s no magic formula, but I suggest that the following steps can get you moving in the right direction.
Know that God loves you unconditionally. How do we know this? 1 John 4:9 answers this question.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”
God sent Jesus to die for your sins and the sins of the whole world—past, present, and future. However, the only way you can begin to comprehend his love is by believing in Jesus, confessing your sins, and asking Jesus to come into your life. He does this by sending his Holy Spirit to take up residence in you. As you mature in your Christian walk, the Holy Spirit will witness to your spirit that God loves you and that nothing in all of creation can separate you from his love.
Recognize the authority of God’s Word. He commands that we be thankful—always. I challenge you to Google the words thanks or thankfulness and see how many times they appear in Scripture. You’ll be amazed. Take time to read the verses and meditate on them. Becoming a more thankful person will take on a whole new meaning and importance for your life as you serve God.
Believe that God never commands you to do anything without giving you the power and ability to obey. It’s simply not in fallen human nature to be thankful all the time, but the Lord can transform your thinking, your attitude, and your perspective. He can even help you be thankful for the hard times and learn that much of our Christian growth occurs not during your successes, but through your trials. The Apostle Paul suffered hardships throughout decades of ministry. Rather than becoming bitter or angry, he became more thankful. He penned these words from a filthy prison cell:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul walked the talk. As you exercise faith in the Lord and his Spirit working in you, you will become more thankful.
Practice being thankful. No place in Scripture promises that becoming a more thankful person will be easy. It takes effort, determination, and perseverance. You’ll experience setbacks. You’ll fall off your horse. Don’t let those times defeat you. Get back on your horse!
Read your Bible and pray. The importance of these two disciplines can’t be overstated. Just think—when you read Scripture God is speaking directly to you. He wants you to know him. Throughout the books of the Bible, he reveals not only himself but much about you as well. You can never really know yourself without knowing your Creator first.
And prayer. So much has been said. But the real key is not to read about prayer, talk about prayer, but to pray! You don’t