In Everything Give Thanks
He had walked into their town, seen dozens respond to the gospel, and helped them start a church. They held a special place in his heart. But after a few weeks, Paul was forced to flee because of intense Jewish opposition. Timothy and Silas stayed behind with the largely Gentile church.
Thessaloniki, Greece, was the capital of Roman Macedonia. It lay strategically alongside major trade routes. Today, the city has almost a million people.
Paul traveled there from Philippi and had to secretly slip away to Berea, helping the new believers there find Jesus the Messiah in their Hebrew Scriptures. But then, opposition again kicked in, and Paul moved on.
While staying in Corinth for 18 months, Timothy and Silas caught up with Paul and brought good news about the Thessalonian believers standing strong and true in the middle of persecution. Paul wrote to them expressing his thankfulness and love for them. It is at the end of his first letter to the Thessalonians that this verse is placed:
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thessalonians 5:18
In everything we give thanks.
The “everything” doesn’t deserve the thanks; it’s the sovereign God behind “everything” that deserves the thanks. He has got this. He knows what He is doing. He can be trusted. For the Thessalonians, their present circumstances were hard, and thus, more than any other church, Paul taught them a lot of prophecy – the hope of Jesus’ return. If we struggle to thank God for the present, we can always be thankful for the hope we have that sufferings will be one day be rewarded, and this broken world put right.
New Testament Overview
My husband just completed teaching NT Survey here in South Africa.
Just for fun, I sat in on his classes and took the exams along with the other learners. I am amazed at how those books are coming alive to me the more I study them. One of my favorites is Colossians. It is similar to Thessalonians in that Paul sent them a personalized letter, but also in that there is a strong emphasis on giving thanks.
Colossae was situated inland from Ephesus.
Paul never made it there, but Epaphras who came to know Paul in Ephesus, went to Colossae and shared the gospel with them. He cared for their spiritual well being. Paul wrote “Colossians” to this group of believers. All four chapters have a verse referencing being thankful. Chapter three has three verses in a row (3:15-17) that give direct commands to be thankful, much like I Thessalonians 5:18.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
It Is God’s Will
“In everything give thanks, come what may,” is a very good motto to live by. But, to up the ante, it is not just a good motto to live by – it is God’s will for us, His directive to us. When Paul wrote that to struggling believers in Thessaloniki, he gave no wiggle room. There was no excuse for certain personalities or ethnic cultures or passing human emotions where expressing thanks just wasn’t done.
There was no escape. Given that “everything happens all the time,” they were to constantly be looking for things to be thankful for. God wants us to give thanks in everything.
Thinkful List Today:
- God has given us grace to power through Covid-19 so far
- David teaching an overview of the New Testament to hungry learners
- Food to eat today
- We have a bed to sleep in
- Headache has not been bad today
- That when I have pain and discomfort Lord Shammah is with me
- This life is a vapor and soon I can be with the Lord
- I got to clean the balcony today and had hot water and soap to do it
- I got to have discipleship with a friend
- If God wants me to give thanks, He will enable me to do it