The Discipline of Giving Thanks

As the season changes and the leaves turn colors, it’s a sign that it’s November and time to refocus on the critical discipline of being thankful. Being thankful is a discipline that requires intentional action.

How often have you been reminded to say thank you or to send someone a thank you text or card? An attitude of gratitude will have a ripple effect on every area of our lives.

Mastering the discipline of giving thanks will elevate your attitude when life attempts to pull you down.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18, the Apostle Paul gives final instructions on how Christians are to live and cultivate a thankful attitude in all things. The themes mentioned in chapter 5 are repeated in many in the New Testament.

And when you see repeated words or themes in the Bible, that usually highlights a lesson that must be learned. It’s also an indication that it’s a common area believers struggle with implementing, so don’t get down on yourself if thankfulness escapes you.

Let’s look at these six instructions.

#1 Honor and respect those who labor among you in the church.

Notice that Paul doesn’t suggest honoring someone simply because they have a title or position. Instead, we honor those with titles and positions because of their work. Laziness should never be celebrated.

The type of work Paul is highlighting is the admonishment or teaching of believers. I read a quote this week that speaks to this point. “Don’t look for the closest church to your house; look for the closest church to the Bible.”

As a Lead Pastor, my most important task is not to grow the church, inspire vision, or maintain finances. It is to grow you! My mission is to help get you to the finish line, where you hear God say, well done, good and faithful servant.

The best way I can do that is to teach the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Even if that means I step on your toes.

#2 Be at peace with others.

Peace is not automatic but takes work. The command to make peace means there will be some around us, continually, who create conflict. Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

At some point, we all grow tired, but as we are encouraged by God’s Word, we are to encourage others to persevere.

30Even youths shall grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.” Isaiah 40:30

#3 Be patient with everyone.

Patience comes from a Greek word meaning to suffer long or long-suffering. Which accurately describes patience.

So how long do you have to be patient with people? A long-long-long time. When you’re ready to quit being patient, you’ve only just begun.

#4 Rejoice always.

It is impossible to rejoice always apart from the Holy Spirit. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit lives in you, you have all you need to rejoice always.

As Christians, we must break free of the human mindset of the need to find something to rejoice over and recognize that we have joy germinating within us.

Joy is not always laughter but knowing that God is with you, for you, and will never leave or forsake you.

#5 Pray without ceasing.

Unceasing prayer has to do with our readiness to pray at any time or place. Prayer should not be designated to a specific time or in a particular place but whenever the need requires prayer.

“Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of anger.” Charles Spurgeon

Before you speak to others, talk to God. Keep in mind prayer is not a means of changing God’s mind or having God change your adversary. Prayer is about God changing you to be more like Him!

The final instruction may be the toughest yet, but is the glue that binds it all together.

#6 Give thanks in all circumstances.

Giving thanks in all circumstances is not the same as giving thanks for all circumstances.

The discipline of being thankful necessitates having the proper focus or perspective. If we are focused on the pleasures of this life and building our kingdom than on His kingdom and eternal life, we will find ourselves more angry or frustrated about things than we will be thankful.

God wants you to shift your mindset onto better things.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

This is God’s roadmap for you.

  • Esteem and honor those who work among you.
  • Be at peace with all people.
  • Admonish the idle, encourage the faint of heart.
  • Be patient with all.
  • Do good to everyone.
  • Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all things!

Working through this list will cultivate thankfulness in all circumstances and will keep us busy until He returns!

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