OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            The sweet psalmist of Israel exhorts his readers, saying:  “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:  be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Ps. 100:4).  The faithful apostle Paul sets forth a similar exhortation in Philippians 4:6:  “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by pray and supplication let your requests be made known unto God.”  Thanksgiving is demanded by the inspired writers.  They understood that God’s people have much for which to be thankful.

            In I Thessalonians 5:18, Paul again encourages thanksgiving.  Let’s listen to his words closely.  “In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  The word that we want to call to your attention is the word “everything.”  Paul said:  “In everything give thanks.”  Everything includes “each individual of a whole collection.”  Dear readers, it is not easy to be thankful for everything.  Yet, this is precisely what the apostle Paul exhorts us to do.

            If we are thankful in everything, we are thankful for the small, insignificant things of life.  In this writer’s house there is a door that is not level.  This door constantly wants to close.  Last week, I purchased a door stop to keep the door open.  The door stop is a small thing, but it provides a wonderful blessing.  Over the course of time, however, it is possible to forget that small door stop.  Since it is so insignificant, I could no longer give thanks for it.  The example we have used here seems ridiculous.  Yet, aren’t there other things that are small and insignificant that we fail to give thanks for?  Within a congregation there are those who record the sermons, who drive the vans, who devise the order to worship, who keep the books in the library organized, and who keep the pencils in the pew sharpened.  All of these things, and many others, are small things.  We need to give thanks for those who do these things.  To fail to do so is to despise them (See. Zech. 4:8-10).

            Again, if we are thankful in everything, we will be thankful for the ordinary things of life.  When this writer was a child, he would spend one week each summer with his grandparents.  There were three things that grandmom and granddad did not have:  TV, air conditioning, and an in-door toilet.  These are some of the “ordinary” things of life.  When I returned home from by grandparent’s home, I was thankful for them for a time.    It is easy for us to take the ordinary things for granted.  We use them every day.  They service our needs in a reliable manner.  They make our lives much simpler.  Yet, we often fail to give God thanks for that which is ordinary.  Could the same be said of the sunshine, the rain, the church building and its facilities, our elders, our deacons, our secretary, etc.?  As we go through our day, let’s begin to notice the ordinary things of life.  As we do, let’s bow our heads and give thanks to our Father for them.

            Also, if we are thankful in everything, we will be thankful for our hardships and struggles.  These are the things that make our lives difficult.  There are the things that we wish would go away.  Now we are being told to give thanks for them?  Absolutely!  There are many benefits one receives from trials and temptations.  James wrote about one of the benefits in the opening verses of his epistle.  “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; know this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and complete, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).  Paul made a similar statement about tribulations.  “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:  knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience hope:  and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:3-5).  Jesus was yet another who exhorts us to rejoice in our sufferings.  “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:  for great I your reward in heaven:  for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).  Tribulations produce strong character.  Trials develop a deep hope.  Sufferings make us like Jesus.  Persecutions put us into a fellowship of other greats who suffered afflictions.  These blessings of trials enable us to give thanks in our anguish and difficulties.

            Thanksgiving is an action performed by every faithful child of God.  We give thanks that God is our loving Father.  We are grateful that Jesus has redeemed us by His blood.  We offer thanks for the inspired Word of God that governs our lives.  We give thanks for the blood bought institution called the church of Christ.  We give thanks for our families, our friends, and our jobs.  These are the big things of life.  It is right to be thankful for them.  But let us also be thankful for the insignificant things, the ordinary things, and the tribulations that often come our way.  As Paul said:  In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”