Scripture Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ESV
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Throughout the Bible, there is an expectation of thanksgiving. However, soon after the beginning of time, Cain’s ungrateful heart turned very evil and he killed his own brother. On the other hand, an amazing confession of thanksgiving of the faithful Paul occurred during his times of imprisonment, of trial and of calamity.
This month, consider “giving thanks...for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” as a part of a Lutheran school.
When Paul says “Give thanks in all circumstances,” is Paul sharing the secret sauce of life in Christ? Thankful for whatever the circumstances? We rejoice? We pray? We give thanks?
No, the secret is no secret. Paul says it all the time. Luther spoke to it all the time. Actually, it’s baptismal language- “in Christ Jesus.” That’s our secret sauce. In Christ, a life attuned to Christ, we rejoice, we pray, we give thanks. Thankfulness is the natural outflowing of a heart that is turned toward God. Psalm 147:1 says, “Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” All mankind owes all it has to the Creator of this world. Paul wrote, “Be thankful” (Colossians 3:15), demonstrating that a spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.
OT followers of God set up physical examples, altars and the like, as reminders of thanks and to give thanks. Our nation’s national day of thanksgiving can be one of our markers to be sure we give thanks. The pictures in our hallways and homes can be reminders to give thanks. Obviously the prayers in our classrooms, with parents and within the breadth of school ministry are opportunities for thanks to God. We need those reminders to encourage our need to give thanks.
Here are some reminders from Scripture that serve us well to give encouragement and that give topics for thanks-
1 Chronicles 29:12-14- Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. Who am I? Humble leadership is a hallmark of Lutheran schools. Leaders know and act on the calling that God has set. We all do well to thank God for the resources God makes available in our schools. Buildings, teaching materials, programs, and so much more- they all come from the one who “gives strength to all.” So we pray with confidence, “Give us this day our daily bread”
1 Corinthians 1:4- I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus. Paul consistently models thanksgiving for people. He thanked for congregations, for colleagues and for every gift. But note also his thanksgiving for grace. How often do we take the time to give thanks for the greatest gift of all- undeserved love through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?
James 1:2-3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. Thanks for trials? Not normally. But James lets us know that if trials come our way, we can be sure God is using them for faith building. We can accept those trials with confidence knowing that Jesus’s promises, His words, even these words, are true- “...In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Oh give thanks unto the Lord!