Wednesday, November 21, 2012

P1 - The healing power of thankfulness

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

Yesterday's blog defined and introduced the reader to the biblical teaching on "taking up offense".  When you and I take up offense, we choose to retain resentment, anger and bitterness, rather than "letting go" and forgiving.  In Matthew 18 and Luke 17 Jesus warns the reader about the dangers of offenses, how they are inevitable in this world and how easily they can be "taken up" and retained.

Today, in light of thanksgiving, I want to offer the reader a very effective antidote to the heart that is racked by resentment, bombarded by bitterness and refuses to quit rehearsing past hurts.  When coupled with a heart that is confessing of hurt and pain to God, the simplicity of giving thanks marks the first step towards enjoying God.  Lets consider some thoughts from 1 Thessalonians 5:15-22

How being thankful can bring healing to a heart that has taken up offense
In 1 Thessalonians 5:15-22 Paul lays out a series of commands, with the exhortation of 5:18 for thanksgiving being in the middle of the series.  I find it interesting that what Paul mentions in these verses deal with the debilitating affects that occur when we take up offense, with thanksgiving being the solution for each one:

1. How thanksgiving to God solves the need for vengance.  1 Thesslonians 5:15  
People who take up offense will over time become more and more caustic, finding ways to repay the evil that was no doubt unfairly done against them or perceived to have been done against them.  Paul says that rather than repaying "evil for evil", believers need to:  "always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people."  The way I begin to carry out 1 Thessalonians 5:15 is by giving thanks to God.  When I direct my thanks to God, I am expressing trust and appreciation to the only one who can heal the hurt of my heart.  The Lord in turn will teach me how to forgive as the Lord forgave me. (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:31-32)  In the context of this passage, we are not just getting mere behavior modification, rather for all these commands there is the provision of grace of thanksgiving. (5:18)

2. How thanksgiving to God solves the lack of joy. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 "rejoice always".  Whenever we take up offense, our hearts are characterized by complaining and lack of joy.  Whenever I have taken up offense, I discover myself complaining and being negative about everything.  The command to "rejoice always" can only be accomplished whenever we give thanks.  All of God's commands require His grace to carry them out.  Whenever you and I give thinks to God, we open the door for Him to release His power and grace into our lives.  Furthermore, whenever you choose to give thanks, you will find more things to be thankful for - leading you to be a more joyful person.  Again the command here in verse 16 is grammatically and in context connected to the command to give thanks in 5:18.

3. How thanksgiving to God solves prayerlessness.  1 Thessalonians 5:17
People who take up offense will soon be a people who struggle to pray or stop praying all together.  Paul states here in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "pray without ceasing".  How is that possible?  It all starts with thanksgiving to God.  Naturally thanksgiving is a mode of prayer, since it is also the first step in praise to God. (Psalm 100:4-5).  If your prayer-life is dried up, thank God for what He did for you by sending Jesus Christ.  Scriptures such as Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:6-10 and 1 Peter 2:22-24 are excellent passages to think on before praying.  I guarantee whenever you start thanking God, your prayer life will go from crawling to soaring.

4. How thanksgiving to God gets you back into the known will of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19
1 Thessalnians 5:18 states: "to give thanks in all things, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  I love passages that tell me what God's will is for my life.  Whenever you and I believer take up offense, hold the grudge and refuse to let go of past hurts, we begin to drift.  The known will of God is the Word of God. (Deuteronomy 29:29) When Christians finds themselves either wanting to hurt other people, complaining and not praying, then its a sure sign they are operating out of the known will of God.  What I find encouraging about the simplicity of thanksgiving is that it enables me to get back immediately to doing what the Lord saved me for - "to do good works", "to be zealous to do good deeds" and "to be the praise unto His glory". (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; Ephesians 1:12)

The truth of this section of scripture is so important that I would like us to continue on tomorrow.  May you dear reader have a wonderful Thanksgiving day tomorrow.