The apostle Paul was a man who certainly understood and wholeheartedly embraced the importance of giving thanks. I recently counted over 85 references to words like “thanks,” “thankful,” and “thanksgiving” in his letters. But what was he bubbling over about? What was going on in his life that made him so grateful? After all, he had so many reasons to complain. He wrote about a third of his letters from prison (see Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon), he was frequently beaten, mocked, went without basic necessities, was falsely accused by people he loved and was even shipwrecked (for more, see 2 Corinthians 11:24-28)! Yet he could not stop giving glory to God for all that he had been given. Here’s just a few of those things:
1. He thanked God for the people he worked with (see Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4). Even though some of the churches he served had some HUGE problems, he still expressed appreciation for them. Are you thankful for the people you work with. Sure, it’s easy enough to see their warts, but if you begin to look for evidences of God’s grace in their life, you’ll find it.
2. He took time to be thankful for ministry successes (2 Corinthians 2:14). Not only that, he gave credit where credit was due: to God! Scholars generally agree that Paul was very intelligent and well-educated with ministry success that hasn’t been duplicated in 2,000 years. But he knew that he could only accomplish the things that he had because God was the one doing it through him.
3. He didn’t let circumstances change his attitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that we are to be thankful in “all circumstances.” Now before furrowing your eyebrows, notice that he didn’t say “FOR all circumstances.” We don’t need to be thankful that our car hit the deer or that our loved one is ill. But God wants us to be thankful in the midst of those situations. Thankful that a sovereign, all-powerful God is in control and that he loves us no matter what is happening around us.
There’s much more that could be said about Paul, but take a page out of one of his epistles and give God thanks for what he has done. Soon, you’ll be known as a very thankful man/woman.