What the Bible says about thankfulness has nothing to do with attitude
Gratitude is a moral standard of the highest excellence. It is a sentiment of kindness, love, and goodwill towards someone who has helped us.
For the believer, it was Jesus Christ who has helped us escape an eternity of judgment through the blood He spilled on Calvary and His resurrection to secure our salvation.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, we read:
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
It is too easy to state the obvious principle of this verse and completely overlook the command it conveys.
This verse, notably, doesn’t mandate us to feel anything. Many who read too quickly through this verse believe they are simply being challenged to try to keep a thankful attitude and go about their merry way. The problem with attitude is that it is rooted in emotion & feeling and when these change, so does the degree of our gratitude.
First Thessalonians 5:18 directs us to give thanks under all situations regardless of our attitudes. Haven’t you noticed that when you are murmuring, hurt, angry, anxious, disrespectful your emotions & feelings are nowhere near the moral standard of gratitude? For the Christian, gratitude is not to be contingent on circumstances or attitudes. Our standard for gratitude rests on the fact that we are assured that God, His power, His glory is there…in whatever circumstance or situation we may be in.
Yes, it is inherently difficult, even painful, to witness God’s glory in a loss, sickness, tragedy, broken dreams, and unfulfilled desires but it does not mean His glory isn’t there. Despite our inability to see God’s panoramic view of our life, we rest on this truth as believers: He is there, He is good, He is perfect, and His will is perfect.
Lastly, we are not commanded to wait until God has changed our circumstances, fixed our problems, or even made to feel emotionally better to begin expressing our gratitude to Him. His mere presence in all things should be enough to change the outlook regarding our problems. It is why we as Christians always have hope unlike the pessimist who’s perspective dwells on what God has elected not to do (or provide) rather than what He has done.
In this season of Thanksgiving, take heart in the commandment of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and fully extend your gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians doesn’t mandate us to feel anything. The problem with attitudes is that they are rooted in emotions & feelings and when they change, our degree of gratitude shifts as well.
This Thanksgiving, let’s put into perspective our devotion to the the Lord with a thankful attitude for all that He gives.
We may not be thankful for problems but we are to be thankful in everything.
Wonderful post! God is always good…whether my emotions “feel” like it or not.
You are right Jennifer, emotions can obstruct our biblical standard for gratitude.
Great thoughts here! I think it’s helpful that we are told to give thanks IN all circumstances rather than FOR all circumstances because even when there is nothing we can find to be thankful about in our circumstances we can still give thanks for all that God has done for us and that he is with us.
I agree Lesley, well said.
I love this post. I will have to think about it some more. What you have written about our emotions being subject to change, but the command to give thanks does not resonates. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Glad it was an encouragement for you Laurie. Our command to give thanks is simply not contingent with how we feel about something…we are simply commanded to give thanks regardless.
Yes and Amen… my husband and I just recorded a podcast entitled the Attitude of Gratitude –but in it, we share many of these same thoughts! It’s a choice –but it shouldn’t be a hard one! After all –when we really stop to look and see how blessed we are –in any circumstance or season, it’s not hard at all to see His hand and feel His nearness! Happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you for visiting Karrileea, and you’re right, it shouldn’t be hard to see God’s hand in our lives if we can just stop and look.