Have you noticed that it is much easier to focus on the sins of commission, which is doing those things we know we should not do, than it is to focus on the sins of omission, not doing those things we know we should do? Yet, the Bible states that both are wrong in God’s eyes (James 4:17), and perhaps the greatest sin of omission we can struggle with is that of thanksgiving. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The Lord tells us that we are to always have an attitude of gratitude no matter what we face in life. Now, He does not say we are to be thankful for all circumstances but in all circumstances.
I think because it shows our trust in His care and love for us. Whenever we fear or worry or grumble because of our circumstances, we are not trusting that God is greater than what we face. So when we fail to be grateful, it demonstrates both a lack of trust and recognition of God’s goodness and greatness, which in turn brings negative attitudes, anxieties and fears to our lives. So, it is God’s will, and ultimately the best for us, when we develop an attitude of gratitude.
It is thanksgiving that helps keep us in a posture of faith. Gratitude helps us discern between the burdens of God and false burdens that might be triggered by spiritual warfare, news reports, or the many cares of everyday life. It is thanksgiving that keeps our focus on Him.
Now, it is important to understand that Biblical thanksgiving is always based on an attitude and not an emotion. It is something we are to always be proactive about and not simply reactive in. In other words, we are not just to be thankful when we feel like it. If we are only grateful when we feel like it, we may never be thankful because the negative things around us will often seem more obvious than the positive things. That is why God commands us to give thanks in all circumstances. Look for what is praiseworthy! Does that sound unrealistic? Only when we are unaware of His goodness and greatness.
Awhile back, I received an e-mail about thanksgiving entitled, “I’m Thankful for….” The following examples show us how to develop a grateful attitude: I’m thankful for…the taxes I pay because it means that I’m employed…the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat…the huge heating bill because it means I am warm…the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I’m alive…the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear and that someone else is also giving God glory!
Thanksgiving is to be a mark of those who follow Christ. When people all around us are fearful, depressed, and full of complaints, we should be seen and heard as joyful, thankful, and hopeful. A study of the book of Revelation reveals that thanksgiving is actually part of the life-style and atmosphere of heaven (Rev. 7:12). So, let us show the world Who we belong to and demonstrate our love and faith in God by developing an attitude of gratitude!