Giving thanks gets a lot of attention this time of year thanks to the assignment of the fourth Thursday of November as a national thanksgiving celebration. But long before that particular day was made a national holiday, God wove the beauty of thankfulness throughout His Word that our hearts might be strengthened by a continual attitude of thanksgiving.
One of those passages is found in 2 Thessalonians. I don’t want to attribute to Paul any thoughts or attitudes that may or may not have been his when penning this letter, but I do want to share some thoughts that jumped out at me when I read 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
First, the verse…
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because
your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another
grows ever greater… 2 Thessalonians 1:3
When I read this verse, the phrase “we ought always to give thanks” literally jumped off the page at me. The emphasis was definitely on what we ought to do. This is not based in circumstances. It isn’t based in what we feel like doing. It is based on what we are supposed to do.
Paul stated that we are supposed to give thanks. So, what does he do? He launches into a list of reasons why he is thankful for the Thessalonian believers.
Maybe thankfulness for the Thessalonian church came easily for Paul. Goodness knows there were other people it was much harder for him to find reasons to be thankful for. But, even with them, he did it anyway. A read through the book of Galatians shows that!
We ought always to give thanks to God…
So, what’s stopping us?
When God gives a command in Scripture, nothing on earth should stop us from giving our all to obey it. Whether it be making disciples, loving one another, giving thanks, or any other word of instruction, our hearts should hunger to accomplish it. When a command is brought to our minds, it’s time to follow Paul’s example and move to obey, no matter how difficult the circumstances make it.
We ought always give thanks to God…
What is something you are struggling to give thanks for this year? What person makes you want to find excuses to get out of that “always” command? I pray that God will overwhelm you with at least one specific way you can be thankful for that one thing or person. And I pray you will follow Paul’s example and act in obedience.
I guarantee, the results will be beautiful.