In a few days, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it seems Thanksgiving doesn’t seem to get the designation it deserves. It’s like we go from Halloween directly to focusing on Christmas. I want to encourage you to stop and think about the many things for which you have to be thankful all because of God. I call it developing an attitude of gratitude. Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Church at Thessalonica saying, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This applies to Christians of all generations. The word, “thanks” means gratitude or gratefulness. Consider several truths about having an attitude of gratitude:
- Thankfulness is Commanded
God never commands us to do something that is impossible to do. So, no matter what the circumstances, you can be thankful. Thankfulness is not an option to be considered it is a command to be obeyed. Will you obey God?
- Thankfulness is a choice, not a Feeling
An attitude of gratitude is not based on how you feel but based on a choice you make. Every day that stretches out before you, you choose to be thankful. It has nothing to do with your emotions.
- Thankfulness is based on the Goodness of God, so Regardless of the circumstances, God is Good, God is Faithful, and God is There
Thankfulness has everything to do with Who God is not what is happening around you. Our God is always good, always faithful, and always at work all around us.
- Thankfulness is to be Given IN the Circumstance Not FOR the Circumstance
There is a big difference between being thankful IN your circumstances and being thankful FOR your circumstances. For implies you feel grateful for what is happening to you, even the bad and sad things. Paul is not suggesting that. Christians are to be thankful IN everything—every circumstance, situation, challenge, problem, trial, bad day, bad news—understanding that God knows what to do and when to do it. I can choose to be thankful for how God is going to work IN my circumstances and how He is going to keep His Word.
- Thankfulness is a gift from You to God
Notice Paul says, “Give thanks…” You are offering a sacrifice of praise to God. You are choosing to give an offering to God by declaring you are thankful for Him, for His plan, for His provision, and for His promises. Giving thanks to God also means you choose to give up certain things such as complaining, whining, griping, moaning, and groaning. You place those on the altar. One way you can express thankfulness is by giving thanks over your meals even in public.
- Thankfulness is to be Continual
The words “give thanks” are in the present tense which means you are to do this continually, as a way of life. You are to live with an attitude of gratitude. You habitually keep in mind that you will not take God for granted.
- Thankfulness Is a Confession of Faith
When you choose to thank God, you are confessing your faith that the circumstance you are facing may be bigger than you, but it is not bigger than God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Thankfulness is an act of faith that declares our God is in control, not our circumstances.
- Thankfulness Announces You are Turning Control of Your Circumstances Over to God
Your circumstances may be too much for you to handle, but it is not too much for God to handle. When I choose to thank God regardless of how bad things may be, I am turning control of my situation over to God Who can do anything, is everywhere present at all times and all places, and knows everything, past, present, and future.
- Thankfulness Makes Your Faith Attractive to the World
A thankful spirit is a contagious spirit. Paul and Silas were thrown into the worst possible type of prison for casting a demon out of a girl and for preaching the gospel. They were beaten to a pulp, thrown into a dark dungeon, and were lying in their own blood, with their hands and feet chained. Their response? They began to praise and thank God and sang at midnight (Acts 16:26-27). The prisoner’s response was they got interested in the Christian faith. The world is watching how we respond when bad things happen. When we choose to thank God, our faith becomes attractive to the world.
- Thankfulness Involves Thanking God for What DIDN’T Happen
When considering being thankful we need to also thank God for the things that could have happened to us that didn’t happen. You could have been in an accident, you could have been hurt, you could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Thank God for what DIDN’T happen!
- Thankfulness Changes Your Focus From AROUND to UP
You must get your glance and gaze right. You glance at your circumstances and gaze at the Lord instead of gazing at your circumstances and glancing at the Lord. Look up, God is still in control.
- Thankfulness Brings You Into the Will of God
Paul said that thankfulness is the will of God. If you don’t know God’s will about specific areas in your life, begin with what you do know is God’s will. Start thanking Him and praising Him. You are always in the will of God when you thank Him.
Many years ago, an older English pastor was famous for his pulpit prayers. He always found something to thank God for, even in bad times. One stormy Sunday morning, when everything was going extremely bad in the community and in the lives of many people in the congregation, himself included, he stepped to the pulpit to pray.
A member of the congregation thought to himself, “The preacher will have nothing to thank God for on such a wretched morning like this.” The pastor began his prayer: “We thank thee, O God, that it is NOT always like this.” No matter what you are facing right now, you can thank God that it will not always be like it is right now!