January 27, 2014

An Attitude Of Gratitude

“Be thankful in all circumstances,

for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) 

As a pastor I am so often ask, “How can I know the will of God for my life?” That’s a question every sincere Christ follower will ask. The best way to know the will of God is to turn to the Word of God, the Bible. As you read it you will discover that God has not kept His will a mystery but has revealed it clearly with phrases like “…for this is God’s will for you….” as in our passage today. I’ve found in my life that when I’m being obedient to God’s revealed will that His Spirit will guide me in the decisions that aren’t so clearly spelled out. Take this passage for example. It’s one of the most powerful expressions of faith I know. You might not think that just by reading it, but an attitude of gratitude expresses our faith and confidence and trust in God. It honors Him when we are thankful. It seems so simple until we experience difficult and trying circumstances beyond our control to change. While we can’t control the circumstances of life, we can control how we respond to them. That’s what faith is all about. It’s the peaceful and thankful confidence that dares to believe that despite the circumstance God is working everything for my good even when I don’t feel like it or see it happening. If you’ve been a Christ follower for very long you would agree that being thankful in all circumstances isn’t always easy to obey. The alternative, however, is much worse. Being thankful is the best antidote against a bitter and critical spirit. So how is your gratitude quotient? Do you have an attitude of gratitude or has it become critical and bitter? Someone once said, “Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness and is an insult cast in the face of God.” I think that is why the writer of Hebrews described praise as a “sacrifice” in Hebrews 13:15. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Try it this week. He’s not saying to give thanks for all things but to be thankful in all circumstances. Adopt that disposition that says, “Lord I’m so thankful that you are in charge and are aware of what’s going on. I may not like it, but I’m so thankful that nothing can come into my life without your permission and your power to handle it. I trust you to work it out for my good and your glory!” In fact, the apostle who wrote this verse, Paul, had this disposition even when he was thrown out of the town he was writing to. According to Acts 17 a riot broke out in the city of Thessalonica while Paul was there preaching the gospel and an angry mob came after him. You might think that kind of mistreatment would dampen his spirits. On the contrary, it just ignited an attitude of gratitude in the God who had called him and would ultimately accomplish His purposes through him whether in life or in death! Imagine the delight you bring to God when you are thankful in all circumstances like that!