“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
— 1 Thessalonians 5:18
As I told you yesterday, I didn’t have much money to spend on Christmas when I was young, but I was so thankful for what my parents gave me to buy presents for other people. My first Christmas allowance for family gifts was $2 — which worked out to 50 cents per person!
When the day came for me and my older sister to do our Christmas shopping, we wandered the aisles of Woolworth’s department store and TG&Y to try to find the perfect gifts for our father, mother, and siblings, and we had to fit our purchases into our “gigantic” budgets! I walked through the aisles with pad and pencil in hand so I could add up the amount of items I had placed in my cart, and I was overwhelmed with how much money it took to buy nice gifts!
It made me appreciate the gifts that were given to me, and it taught me to value money. It taught me to seriously think before I put items into the cart and went to the cash register to pay the bill. I learned to think about the amount of money that had been given to me, and how I needed to be thankful and steward it the best that I could.
This lesson has been repeated multiple times in my life, as I am sure it has been repeated in your life too. When presented with choices and a limited budget, you are required to work within the resources you have been given. Unless you have a special gift of faith that enables you to believe for more cash, then you must learn to operate in the amount of cash that has been afforded to you.
God has been amazingly faithful to support Denise and me and our ministry with the finances that we need to reach our part of the world with the Gospel. But we’ve had moments when we had to say “No, we cannot do this right now. This is too big of a stretch. It would be better for us to operate in the budget that we have and wait until later to take this door of opportunity.” We are so thankful for our ministry partners whom God has used to further our work, but we know that it would be incorrect to overburden them when they are already sacrificing an amazing amount. Most projects are not so urgent that they cannot wait — and most of the time, opportunities will still be available later.
I learned this lesson when Ronda and I were walking those store aisles. We saw many things we wanted to buy that were beyond the budget my parents had graciously given to us. In those cases, rather than complain or moan about it, we learned to be thankful for what we could do. We picked up many items that we laid right back down, because they did not fit into the budget we had been given!
In First Thessalonians 5:18, the apostle Paul says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Notice it says “in everything”— the Greek words en panti, which is an all-inclusive phrase that means in every circumstance. This even includes all manner of disappointments, such as not being able to do what we’d like to do or not being able to purchase or attain what we really want. In those moments, we are to be thankful anyway.
The phrase “give thanks” is translated from the present imperative active of the Greek word eucharisteo. This is a compound of eu, meaning an inner feeling of being overwhelmed with gratification, and charis, which is the Greek word for grace. When compounded and used in this context, the new word is a commandment to have a graceful, thankful attitude — and to keep it up! It is just the opposite of complaining, moaning, and grumbling. Paul wrote, “…This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Paul left no room for doubt. We are to have gracious and thankful attitudes, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. Perhaps we wish for more, but the truth is, we don’t have more at present, and groaning won’t change it. So being thankful for what we do have is God’s commandment to us! And when we have a thankful attitude, we put ourselves in a position where God can continue to open new doors and bring us into higher levels of blessing!
So today I want to ask you:
- Does gracefulness and gratitude rule your life?
- Are you thankful for what you have, or do you find yourself often complaining in different situations of life?
- Even when it seems that what you have is short of what you need, are you able to maintain a thankful attitude for what God has provided for you?
These are important questions to ask yourself, so I urge you to let these questions sink deep into your heart and mind today. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you about your own level of contentment and of thankfulness for what you have right now.
This is a lesson I learned early in life, and I am so glad my parents and the Holy Spirit taught it to me. It’s such a blessing to live life this way — being truly thankful for whatever I have and for whatever I am able to do, even as I continue to believe God for the fullness of provision that He desires for me!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I confess that I have moments when I am tempted to moan and complain that I don’t have more than I currently have to spend on myself and on others. Especially during this Christmas season, I am facing the frustration of wishing I could do more than I can do. I repent for the times when I’ve yielded to emotions stemming from ingratitude. I ask You to help me always be grateful for what I have rather than to focus on what I don’t have. Let me never forget the gifts I can give — such as lovingkindness, thoughtfulness, and investments of time and attention. These are gifts that are not held in our hands, but they leave the lingering fragrance of Your goodness long after this season is past.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am a grateful and thankful person. In moments when ingratitude and an unthankful attitude try to rule me, I reject it and deliberately adopt the posture of a grateful heart. Not only am I blessed and thankful for what I can give to others, but I am also thankful for what I receive. Everything is an act of grace; therefore, I choose to have a grateful attitude for anything I am able to give or receive!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- If God were to conduct a review of your life, would He say that you have a thankful attitude in most situations? What kind of a score would He give you for maintaining a grateful heart?
- Have you had times when you wanted to do something, but lacked the resources to do it? What did you do in that situation? Did you lay it aside, or did you avoid your conscience and charge it to credit, which later became a struggle for you?
- If you had waited for that item you charged, would it have still been available later? Is it possible that God wanted to give it to you with no credit charge? Think it over, and be honest with yourself, because God already knows the truth.