“in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It’s funny how sometimes truth gets lost in translation. Many times we reinterpret words to fit our own understanding or our own plans. We like things to fit just right in our own understanding and our own plans. This verse challenges such a notion. We would like to think that the word “everything” doesn’t really mean everything. We subtly think, “Surely God couldn’t mean for us to be thankful in times of tragedy, pain, hardship, loss, offense, persecution etc.” Such thinking is the cause of missing or losing God’s truth in our personal translations. The word “everything” is translated from the Greek term pas means, “all, any, every, the whole . . . all manner of, all means), always, any (one), everyone, everyway, as many as, thoroughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.” In other words, in the Greek the word “everything” means everything!
You might say, “Now wait a minute, I’m sick, should I give thanks to God for that?” Or you might say, “Wait a minute, I just flunked my test . . .” or “I just broke up with my spouse . . . boyfriend . . . girlfriend . . .” or “I just lost my job . . . got demoted . . . wrecked my car . . . stubbed my toe . . .” or whatever bad thing you can imagine; should I give thanks for that? Well, not exactly.
A Subtle Distinction
You see there is a subtle distinction we need to make here. The above verse says, “in everything give thanks,” it doesn’t say, “give thanks for everything. Now that doesn’t mean we can be Mr. or Ms. Grumble or Complainer (see Philippians 2:14-16). But it does mean that we can be thankful in spite of whatever befalls us; we can be thankful IN everything.
What Does It Mean to Be “Thankful”?
The word “thankful” in 1 Thessalonians is translated from the Greek term eucharisteo which means, “to be grateful, . . . to express gratitude . . . to say grace at a meal; (give) thank (-ful, -s).” This is a compound word derived from joining the word “good” (̂ ĕu, yoo - . . . good . . . well . . . well done) and “favor” (charizŏmai, khar-id´-zom-ahee - to grant as a favor, i.e. gratuitously, in kindness, pardon or rescue:— deliver, (frankly) forgive, (freely) give, grant) which is another form of the word “grace” (charis, khar´-ece; . . .graciousness (as gratifying), . . . the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; . . . gratitude . . . acceptable, benefit, favor, gift, grace (-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, worthy).
Therefore, to be thankful is to express gratitude and appreciation toward God for His good favor and blessing.
Reasons to Be Thankful
No matter what we are going through, we should give thanks to God. On what basis and for what reason should we give thanks to God in all things? We should obey this Spirit inspired exhortation of Paul’s based on the following truth from God’s word:
1. This is God’s will for you – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
2. God has a plan for you – Jeremiah 29:11-13
3. God promises to bring good from ANYTHING and EVERYTHING for those who love Him and answer His call in the midst of trials – Romans 8:26
4. God uses EVERYTHING, the good and the bad in our lives, to make us more like Jesus, to help us know Jesus better through experience in situations – Romans 8:29
5. God uses trials to build and purify our faith – 1 Peter 1:6-9
6. If it weren’t for hardship, we would not know that God’s grace really is sufficient – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
7. Any hardship now doesn’t even compare to what awaits those who thankfully trust the Lord in everything – Romans 8:18
Eight Good Reasons to Give Thanks to the LORD
In Psalm 92 we are told it is good to give thanks to the LORD. And in this Psalm we are given some good reasons to give thanks to the LORD, even when enemies rise up against us. Let’s see what these good reason are to give thanks to the LORD.
Psalm 92 reads:
“1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; 2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night, 3 On an instrument of ten strings, On the lute, And on the harp, With harmonious sound. 4 For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. 5 O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. 6 A senseless man does not know, Nor does a fool understand this. 7 When the wicked spring up like grass, And when all the workers of iniquity flourish, It is that they may be destroyed forever. 8 But You, LORD, are on high forevermore. 9 For behold, Your enemies, O LORD, For behold, Your enemies shall perish; All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. 10 But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil. 11 My ey e also has seen my desire on my enemies; My ears hear my desire on the wicked Who rise up against me. 12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, 15 To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”In this psalm there are many reasons given to give thanks to God but we will mention eight of them.
1. It is “good” to give thanks to the LORD – 92:1. The word “good” ( [towb /tobe/]) occurs 559 times in the Old Testament being translated as “good” 361 times, “better” 72 times, “well” 20 times, “goodness” 16 times, “goodly” nine times, “best” eight times, “merry” seven times, “fair” seven times, “prosperity” six times, “precious” four times, “fine” three times, “wealth” three times, “beautiful” twice, “fairer” twice, “favor” twice, “glad” twice, and translated miscellaneously 35 times. A similar word (Strong’s #3202 טֹוב (towb)) has the meaning of either: 1 good, i.e., pertaining to the moral opposite of evil (2Ch 30:18); 2. good, i.e., pertaining to having good value (Ge 1:4); 3.generous, formally, good, i.e., pertaining to giving much in relation to one’s possessions (Pr 22:9); 4. festive, i.e., pertaining to a joyful time or feeling (1Sa 25:8); 5. beautiful, i.e., pertaining to being pleasant to the eye (Gen. 6:2; 2Sa 11:2), 6. pleasing, i.e., pertaining to a feeling of fondness and enjoyment (1Sa 29:9); note: further study may yield more domains All of this and all it implies gives us good reason to be thankful to the LORD.
2. Thanks helps us to focus on God’s loving-kindness and faithfulness – 92:2
3. Thanks to God puts a song in our heart and lifts our spirit – 92:1,3
4. Thanks brings us into proper focus in that it helps us concentrate on God’s work not our own – 92:4. This is the pathway to triumph in life.
5. Thanks to God is based on His thoughts for us – 92:5-6. Psalm 139:4,17-18. Think of it, the Creator of the universe taking time to THINK about us!
6. Thanks to God in the midst of the rise of our enemies is based on the understanding that God is in control, He is allowing enemies to show themselves so that He might expose them and deal with them – 92:7-9.
7. Thankful trust in God in the midst of trials and enemies leads to triumph and fresh anointing of the Spirit – 92:10-11. (Acts 4:31 in context).
8. Thanks to God is based on God’s promise to make us fruitful and flourish in the process of life – 92:12-15. Palm trees grow and flourish where others wilt and die. Cedars of Lebanon are the strongest of trees. These trees remain fruitful even in old age.
It is GOOD to give thanks to the LORD in EVERYTHING.
Jesus spoke a parable that showed the wrong attitude of thankfulness when He said:
Luke 18:9-14 – “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.12 ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’13 “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We need to guard against being self-righteously thankful. Thankfulness should be in humility and humble adoration of God for all His grace and provision. (See Acts 24:3; 1 Corinthians 10:28-33).
Thankfulness – Sign of Spiritual Maturity
Jesus expressed thanks to the Father (Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21). If we want to be more like Jesus we need to seek Him to help us live a life of thankfulness.Paul practiced thankfulness in his life (Romans 16:3-4; Ephesians 1:16; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he is inspired to write:
Colossians 2:6-7 – “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
This is a call to spiritual maturity and growth by the apostle Paul and it is punctuated with, THANKSGIVING. Thanksgiving is a sign of spiritual maturity; lack of thanksgiving is a sign of spiritual superficiality. We need to ask the Lord to help us grow in Him and be more thankful to Him.
Yes, in EVERYTHING we should give thanks to God. The following poem paints a picture of why this is true and the reasonable thing to do:
If you never . . .
If you never felt pain,
Then how would you know that I'm a Healer?
If you never went through difficulties,
How would you know that I'm a Deliverer?
If you never had a trial,
How would you call yourself an overcomer?
If you never felt sadness,
How would you know that I'm a Comforter?
If you never made a mistake,
How would you know that I'm forgiving?
If you knew all,
How would you know that I will answer your questions?
If you never were in trouble,
How would you know that I will come to your rescue?
If you never were broken,
Then how would you know that I can make you whole?
If you never had a problem,
How would you know that I can solve them?
If you never had any suffering,
Then how would you know what Jesus went through?
If you never went through fire,
Then how would you become pure?
If I gave you all things,
How would you appreciate them?
If I never corrected you,
How would you know that I love you?
If you had all power,
Then how would you learn to depend on me?
If your life was perfect,
Then what would you need Me for?
Sickness, pain and hardship can become a blessing when these drive us closer to God into His saving arms through faith in Jesus. The greatest healing is not healing from cancer, or some other terminal disease, it is healing from the terminal disease of sin. The greatest healing is when the chasm of sin is spanned by the love of God in Christ in the cross and by faith I trust in Jesus and cross over to His side. That healing comes by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus. That is the greatest healing. And that is reason to be thankful in EVERYTHING!