Updated: Nov 22
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
A thankless heart brings forth a habit of grumbling and complaining over earthly circumstances, a judgmental attitude toward others, impatience, irritation, bitterness, unforgiveness, jealousy, anger, disputes, and division. A thankless heart stems from pride, willful ignorance of God's Word, and hard-hearted unbelief. Being habitually unthankful marks the lives of those who don’t believe in Jesus and whose hearts haven’t yet been transformed by the gospel (2 Tim 3:2). Without believing the gospel and being transformed by it, we would all go on to live proud, thankless lives through our old sin nature. Only Jesus can give us a new nature; a new and thankful heart. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
A thankful heart is one that has been transformed by the saving power of Jesus, by grace through faith in Him. Thankfulness flows from humility and knowing that salvation is all of grace. Even my faith is a gift by God's grace (Eph 2:8-9). To know I have eternal life and did nothing to earn it should cause me to jump for joy and do cartwheels. It should also cause me to walk in heartfelt obedience to God's Word, not just because I am so thankful to Him but because I trust Him.
My salvation ought to give me a heart bursting with thanks and praise to the Lord who chose to save me. He didn't have to, but for whatever reason, He did. Sometimes I think, why me, Lord? How did I win the lottery of all lotteries? How did I get so blessed to believe in Jesus and be given eternal life? I've found that meditating daily on this truth can only produce a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23), all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. All those good fruits flow out of a thankful heart toward its Savior. So when I start to complain, lose my patience, or become irritated about my earthly circumstances or other people, I take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinth 10:5-6). I bring my mind back to the truth that God saved me from my sins and gave me a new and thankful heart. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17). And I rejoice!
Thankfulness also has a unifying effect. Instead of causing disputes, debates, and division, it brings people together in harmony and peace. Have you ever noticed that it's rather hard to connect with a grumbling and thankless person? Thanklessness is a natural barrier and divider. It's a party pooper. But"Put two thankful people in a room together and it’s a party!” – Mark Moore. Where there’s a spirit of thankfulness, there’s unity, closeness, trust, joy, and a bond of peace (Eph 4:3). The walls come down, and a true and warm connection forms.
There's no thankfulness that unites more than the thankfulness that comes from the salvation we've received in Jesus as a free gift. Thankfulness that we've been saved creates close connections with others who are also thankful for their eternal well-being. To talk about Jesus with another believer and rejoice in the truth of salvation together always produces a rich connection; one that always leaves me feeling fulfilled, understood, encouraged, joyful, and even more thankful. To believe in Jesus is the greatest thing, but to share Him with someone who also believes in Him is the next greatest thing. No conversation could be more unifying than the one that's about Jesus and how He saved us from our sins and gave us eternal life, by His grace. Who could ever be divided in sharing that spirit of thankfulness grounded in that reality? No one!
When God's command to be thankful is habitually believed, obeyed, and applied, it will transform us, just like believing, obeying, and applying all of God’s commands, by His grace. That’s what happens when we first believe in Jesus and we’re born again of the Spirit. He gives us a new and thankful heart, along with His grace to believe His Word, obey His Word, and apply His commands to our lives. The truth changes us on the inside, and those inward changes naturally show up on the outside. And that's a life full of thanks and praise to the One who saved us and continues to transform us by His grace.
It's God's Will
Just as it’s God’s will that we:
• be saved (1 Tim 2:4)
• be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18)
• be saturated with the Word of God (Col 3:16)
• be sanctified by the Word of God (John 17:17, 1 Thess 4:3)
• be submissive for the Lord’s sake (1 Pet 2:13-15)
• be self-sacrificing (Rom 12:1-2, Phil 2:3-4)
• be suffering for Christ, the gospel, and righteousness' sake (Phil 1:29, 1 Pet 3:17),
• it's also God’s will that we are to be giving thanks always. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess 5:16-18).
Unending thanks and praise shall flow from these eternal, unchanging truths:
1. I am thankful for my salvation in Christ that I can never lose (John 10:28, Phil 1:6, 1 Corinth 1:8, Psalm 138:8, Isaiah 27:3, John 6:37, 39, 1 Peter 1:5, 1 John 2:25)
2. I am thankful that I belong to the family of God, adopted into His Kingdom. I am a daughter of the Most-High God. My identity is in Christ. (Eph 1:4-5, 2:19, Rom 8:14-17, Col 1:12-13, Gal 3:26-29)
3. I am thankful that I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. He is my Helper, Teacher, and my Comforter. He guides me away from error and into all truth (John 14:16, 15:26, 16:13) He is the guarantee of my salvation (John 14:16, 16:13, 1 John 2:27 Eph 1:14, 2 Corinth 5:5)
4. I am thankful because with boldness and confidence, I have full access to God's throne of grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. I can ask my Heavenly Father for anything according to His will, and He hears me (Eph 3:12, 1 John 5:14, Mat 7:7, John 14:13)
5. I am thankful because I am loved and chosen by God before the foundation of the world and set apart for God's plan and purposes (Eph 1:4-5, Rom 8:29, 1 Peter 2:9, John 15:6, 2 Thess 2:13-14, Acts 13:48, Deut 14:2, Psalm 4:3)
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank You and praise You for saving me and giving me a new and thankful heart. A thankful heart can only come by grace through faith in Your Son, Jesus. Today, may I walk in the newness of life You've given me. May You fill my heart with thankfulness that overflows as blessings into other people’s lives. Lord, if and when I start being thankless or complaining today, help me see my sin, confess it to you, repent of it, and turn to You in thankfulness. Give me the kind of thankfulness that makes me turn away from myself and my fleeting circumstances and fix my eyes on Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Even when I can’t always rejoice in my circumstances, help me to rejoice in the Lord always! (Phil 4:4), and give You thanks and praise!
Help me go about my day by today being reminded who Jesus is and what Jesus did for me. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. God so loved the world that He sent His beloved Son Jesus to save me from my sins by dying on the cross for me. In three days, Jesus rose again from the grave so that by grace through faith, I may have eternal life in Him. Lord, help me keep that glorious truth in the forefront of my mind so that I may overflow with thankfulness in that eternal truth, regardless of my fleeting circumstances.
As a Christian, thankfulness should be my way of life and naturally flow from the new heart Jesus gave me when I first believed in Him. Lord Jesus, I want to thank You for all eternity!
All glory belongs to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In His name, I pray, Amen!