New Beginnings and Thankfulness

Time is fleeting and so is a lot  of other stuff in life, and as I begin this new year with you all, I'm reminded of some very important things, one of which I would like to share with you today.  I'm talking about the art of being thankful.  We sometimes call it the attitude of gratitude.  For me, it’s one of the toughest virtues to learn in life.  You know why?  Because we are always wanting more than what we presently possess!  Someone asked a great boxer years ago how much money it took to make him happy, and his answer was, "Just a little more, just a little more."

There are several verses in the New Testament that address this issue of thankfulness, but the primary one is found in I Thess 5:18 which offers a command to all believers in Jesus Christ.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstancesj; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

All three of these exhortations go together, but the essence of all three is found in this last command to give thanks.  A thankful heart can always afford to pray and always afford to rejoice.  Once you remove the thankfulness from the equation, you cannot really do either of the other two very well, if at all!

Whenever I am in a spiritual funk, I usually find myself on the short end of the stick of gratitude.  We need to cultivate this virtue every moment of each day we live.  Paul clearly tells us why in this passage.  It is God's will for each one of His children.  We literally cannot function as normal and useful Christians without the attitude of gratitude!  A lot of things can grab our attention in the Scriptures, but whenever we are commanded to do something that is the will of God, we should pay attention.  It must be very important or else God would have simply made it a suggestion.

 This is no mere suggestion but a direct command from our Spiritual Captain, the Author and Finisher of our faith!  In other words it’s imperative for me to be thankful!

Over in Phil 4:6, Paul gave another command to believers about "not worrying", but in the middle of the antidote for worry (which is prayer) he inserts an extra exhortation which should accompany prayer.  It reads like this,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.

God seems to say here that before we ask for something more in prayer, we should have grateful hearts for what God has already provided for us!  I read a story about a young girl who was at the market one day with her mother when her eyes fell on a pyramid of oranges in the fruit section.  She walked over and looked longingly at the beautiful oranges all carefully arranged on the table.  The vendor immediately noticed the little girl and reached up and took the top orange in the pyramid and lovingly handed it to the little girl.  She took it from his hand and in almost the same motion thrust it back at him with the words, "Peel it!"

I think you get the point, but before we turn out like that little girl, let me encourage us all  to commit ourselves to developing this one spiritual virtue this year above all others.  With God's help let us remember it is a command, and it is the will of God in each of our lives to have an attitude of gratitude.

Happy New Year!


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