1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Pastor Rick Warren:
People want to know God’s will for their lives, and when people ask about God’s will, they’re typically thinking about what they should do next in a particular area of their lives. Who should I marry? Where should I go to school? Which job should I accept? But these are all “number two’s” when it comes to God’s will. His will is, first and foremost, that we learn to give thanks.
Why is it always God’s will no matter what happens in my life that I am to give thanks, not for my circumstances but in my circumstances?
1. Gratitude honors God.
Gratitude honors God. Anytime you thank anyone you honor them. You need to learn to thank God not just for what he does but who he is.
“God, I thank you that you’re smarter than me… I thank you that your wisdom is greater… I thank you that you know what will make me happy more than I do… I thank you that you’re consistent when I‟m inconsistent… I thank you for your love… I thank you for your mercy…” That‟s thanking God for who he is, and it honors him to have this kind of attitude of thanks.
Doctors know that gratitude is the healthiest human emotion. The more grateful you are in life, the healthier you’ll be, physically. Every day sit on the side of your bed and think of ten things to thank God for before you get out of bed. It’ll change your attitude. It’ll change your day. The first five minutes of your day sets your mood for the rest of your day. If you start it with gratitude, you’ll be healthier, you’ll be happier; you’ll be closer to God.
God, let me just think of who you are, what you‟ve done, how much you‟ve done for me. I make a list and think of ten things. Then I think of ten more things. Give thanks. It honors God.
2. Gratitude creates fellowship.
Gratitude always builds deeper relationships between you and other people.
Do you want to rebuild your relationship with a friend, with a parent, with a spouse, with people in your small group? Whoever you want to get closer to, start spending more time expressing gratitude to them. Do you want to build your small group? Don’t just go to small group. During the week text them, email them, call them, write them.
I want to encourage you to be more intentional expressing gratitude to the people in your small group. This week, write some notes, send some text messages, emails. Just tell people how grateful you are. It brings you closer together.
3. Gratitude develops my faith.
Can you thank God when life stinks? That’s the test of whether you’re a shallow Christian or a deep one. Can you thank God even when life stinks? When everything is going wrong? If you’re going through tough times, don’t look at what’s lost. Look at what’s left. No matter how bad things are in my life, there is always, always, the fact that I can be thankful to God just for being God.
God has promised to see me through life’s most difficult situations – to help me out, to strengthen me, to care for me, to do miracles, to answer prayer. He’s always promised that even when things don’t go my way, he can work it out for good in my life. So ultimately, his plan is in action, and it takes a growing faith to recognize that.
4. Gratitude serves others.
Radical gratitude actually serves others. It becomes a ministry. We’re saved to serve others, and you can have a ministry of appreciation.
If you‟ve ever bought a car you know the meaning of the word depreciation. The moment you drive it off the lot it‟s worth less than you paid for it. Even if it‟s brand new, if you take it back, it’s worth less. Depreciation means to decrease in value.
To appreciate means to raise in value. And this is a ministry. When you appreciate your husband, you raise his value. When you appreciate your wife, you raise her value. When you appreciate your kids, you raise their value. When you appreciate your co-workers, you raise their value to you and to the company. When you appreciate your boss, you raise his/her value.
Everybody in life needs massive doses of encouragement. You have an unqualified need to be affirmed, to be loved, to be appreciated. And so does everybody else. If you want to be used by God here‟s a little secret: affirm everybody. Appreciate everybody. Show gratitude to everybody.
5. Gratitude is a witness to unbelievers.
The best way to share your faith with other people is to start with gratitude. Gratitude shocked people because most people are so ungrateful today.
The Bible says that as believers, we are to live in a way that makes the truth about God attractive. Do they look at your life desire to know more about what gives you such an encouraging attitude?
In a crooked and depraved generation that is cynical and sarcastic and critical, thankful, encouraging people shine like stars in the universe. Christians should be known for radical love, radical kindness, radical joy, radical gratitude. There‟s a word for that. It’s called being Christlike.