By Brad Hannink
One short sentence in Scripture should deeply impact the life of a shepherd leader. It contains a four-word command with a ten-word explanation.
In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18
The scope is staggering: Give thanks … in everything.
How can we possibly give thanks for everything when there is so much suffering and evil in our world? Our culture says to give thanks for comfortable, convenient circumstances, and complain when they’re otherwise. But that’s not the command to the Thessalonians or to us.
Nor is the command to give thanks for everything. The command is, however, to give thanks in everything.
So, why does God give us such a command that even applies in the harshest of circumstances and in the most difficult of times?
- Because thanksgiving exalts God to the place of honor that He deserves.
- Because it acknowledges His sovereignty and that He is the Center and the Source of everything.
- Because thanksgiving acknowledges Who He is and what He has done.
And why should we desire to express our gratitude to Him, in everything?
- Because nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Because He has voluntarily and sacrificially adopted us into His family.
- Because we can trust that everything He permits in our lives He can use to shape us to be just like Jesus.
- Because He’s a good and generous God who gave us eternal life through the death of His own Son.
Knowing that God, as the Creator of all things, shares abundantly with His creation and withholds nothing that He knows is necessary for what we need to be more like Him, why is there such an impediment to our thanksgiving? Simply, it’s us. Our self-centeredness, our selfishness, and our pride.
Pride says, “God owes me good things because I deserve them, so why should I give thanks?” Humility says, “I deserve nothing, but our good God supplies whatever He knows I need, and He deserves my thanksgiving.”
You may remember the old song that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
As an under-shepherd with the responsibility of being a good example for those you influence, how are you doing with gratitude “in everything”? Would it be a good idea for you to take a moment or two – or ten – and count your many blessings? I would encourage you to name them one by one … and take stock of what the Lord has done