Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What is the symbol for “thanksgiving”? A turkey. What if I tell you that a Christian person can be a symbol of thanksgiving, will you believe me? Well, it is difficult for us to say “yes” especially if you have been surrounded by ungrateful Christians in your entire time.
In all circumstances? Yes, remember Paul and Silas when they were imprisoned, they were singing praises to God (Acts 16:25). Remember Job when he was bombarded with all the miseries of life, his wife even told him to curse God, yet Job replied “‘Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10). Paul when he was writing to the Philippi, he was inside the prison, both hands chained, yet still 16 times he told them to rejoice and give thanks!
Even in the context of our passage, chapters 4 and 5 of 1 Thessalonians, it is about the last days or the second coming of Christ. It describes the return of Christ and how Christians ought to behave and walk on this side of reality. Paul is saying, Jesus is Christ is coming, you must do these things. And one of his emphases was about “rejoicing, pray without ceasing, and giving thanks” arguing that these things are the “will of God in Christ Jesus.”
In our passage, the will of God is centered on being thankful, giving thanks, simply bearing the attitude of gratitude. We fall short even to these simple things. But it is very clear in the Bible, throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, that the children of God are expected of being always grateful in all circumstances of life.
- “Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love endures forever.” — 1 Chronicles 16:34
- “Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever!” — Psalm 107:1
- “Enter his gates with thanks; enter his courtyards with praise! Thank him! Bless his name!” — Psalm 100:4
- “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — Ephesians 5:20
- “The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.” — Colossians 3:15
- “Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.” — Colossians 3:17
Focusing on our main passage, 1 Thess. 5:16-18, when you stop praying, you stop rejoicing and giving thanks, and you stop following God’s will in your life. The point is praying is an essential principle in our Christian walk. Thankful to Jesus Christ, for what He had done on the Cross.
As each member of the body is united to Christ, so the body as a whole is united to each of its members. Thankful for the local church.
Be thankful for difficult people, Chris Pappalardo said, “thankful for the moments that require patience, humility, and meekness; thankful for the inter-personal friction that I usually want to avoid. Because in those moments, I remember the mercy of God—and of others—toward me.”
Be grateful for your work. Thankful for the small group. Lastly, thankful for missions and church planting. As a church, we ought to celebrate these things.
There are still more to be stated here. Personal, collective, and even spiritual. My challenge is, for this year 2021, as a Christian who ought to embody gratefulness, what is your ultimate thanksgiving this year? Write it on the back of your Bible so you can always look back in the succeeding years and be reminded about this year. Thank you, church, may we all embrace Christ’s power to transform any story, even the Thanksgiving Story. Praises be to God!
John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
November 28, 2021
This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.