Thursday, November 22, 2012

P2 The healing power of thankfulness

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

To all of my readers I wish a happy thanksgiving in the Lord.  In light of today, we continue on with where we left off, explaining 1 Thessalonians 5:15-22 and the healing power of thankfulness to the Lord.  One of the greatest graces given by God to the believer in Jesus Christ is thankfulness.  Yesterday we explored 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, noting how thankfulness combats the consequences occur when we harbor resentment, bitterness or what the Bible calls: "Take up offences". 

1. Thankfulness is the antidote to seeking vengance, since through it I can carry out God's command to "seek after that which is good for one another and for all people."  (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

2. Thankfulness is the antidote to complaining, since through it I can carry out the command to "rejoice always". (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

3. Thankfulness is the antidote to prayerlessness, since through it I can cultivate a lifestyle woven with prayer. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

4. Thankfulness is the antidote to be out of God's known will, since by it I can instantly get back in step with God. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

What else this grace of giving thanks do for hearts that have been hurt and harmed? Today we will look at the remainder of 1 Thessalonians 5:18-22. 1

Other symptoms of taking up offense that can be healed by giving thanks to God

5. Thankfulness to God can be the antidote to not being able to hear God. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
When Christians take up bitterness or resentment rather than forgiveness, they place a block between them and their ability to hear God.  When Paul speaks of "not quenching the Holy Spirit", He is saying "don't do anything whereby you would begin hindering the Spirit's work in your life".  Another set of passages, Ephesians 4:26-27 and verse 30 all state:  26 "BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not give the devil an opportunity....30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."  The antidote in the Ephesians passage is to "be kind-hearted to one another" (4:32), which can very easily be fulfilled by being thankful for one another and to one another. 

6. Thankfulness to God can be the antidote to lack of interest in the Bible. (1 Thessalonians 5:20)
When you and I as Christian stop being a thankful people, it will greatly affect how we view the Bible.  The same affect occurs whenever we take up offense.  People that take up offenses demonstrate an increasing inability of not being able to digest spiritual truth. (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6)  Bitterness will never make it better, however forgivness will enable you to flourish.  This principle not only works in the realm of your emotional life and thought-life but also in your attitude towards God's word.  A person who comes into a church service with a bitter heart will despise the preaching of God's Word at some point.  What thanksgiving does is that that demonstrates that I am aiming to see God.  Guaranteed, whenever you come into a church service with thanksgiving, my friend you will be able to hear God. 

7. Thankfulness to God can be the antidote to wanting to live right and do right for God. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)
In this final observation on the healing power of thanksgiving, we are commanded to essentially: "hold to what is good and let go of what is evil".

Lets say I gave you a bag of broken glass to carry in one arm and a bouquet of flowers to carry in the other - how long could you enjoy the flowers?  I guaranteee you'd be so worried about the broken glass cutting you or coming out of the bag that the flowers would be the last thing on your mind. 

Whenever you and I harbor bitterness, we carry around in our hearts the broken glass of a former friendship, a soured business deal or misunderstanding.  Either we have to let go of that bag and "hold fast" to the sweet aroma of "every good and perfect gift coming down to us from God" (James 1:17), or else forget the flowers and carry that broken, which over time will cut and hurt even more.  This is Paul's point in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 - "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." 

Only when I choose to thank God, rather than grumble, will I be able to begin healing from hurt.  Only when I forgive, rather than fight and snap at that person who intentionally or unintentionally hurt me, will I then see healing take place in my heart.  It all begins with thanksgiving to God in Christ, and ends with a heart healed and ready to move on in one's walk with the Lord. 

1 I find 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to be central to these bullet-point commands of Paul for two reasons.  First, the phrase "for this" in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is a word that gives a reason for do a particular action.  Thus in giving thanks, I can go back and connect to the other commands in 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, as well as those following the passage.  The second reason I find 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to be central to this string of commands is because it plainly states: "this is God's will".  What does it look like when I am functioning in God's will? I will look out for others, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks, not quench the Spirit, hang onto that which is good and abstain from evil.  Thanksgiving to God gets me back into that pattern, a pattern that can be exited out of when I choose to complain and hold resentment.  These two reasons are why I have been laboring like I have been in today's blog and yesterday's.   

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