Richard Baxter said, “Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can…Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.” At times the heart is trailing our behavior, reminding us that it’s easier to act your way into feeling than feel your way into acting.
When we read the Bible we hear Paul cautioning the Thessalonians to be kind to one another. He wanted them to avoid paying back wrong for wrong. We read, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18) The use of the words “always,” “continually,” and “all,” should eliminate complaining from our daily behavior.
By following this instruction I’m reminded that I am not dependent on others to make me happy. My eternal life and abundant life in Christ give me joy and will outshine any darkness that may come my way. When the Apostles were flogged and ordered not to speak in Jesus’ name, they left the Sanhedrin, “…rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5:41) That’s taking Thanksgiving to a new level!
One of the most compelling reasons for avoiding complaining is to show the world around us that Christians are different. We may be frustrated with all the yard work we have to do, but instead of grumbling about it we may express thanks for the mower, our rake, and the various tools we possess. If we do we may find ourselves singing praises songs and hymns while we move about our property. People notice that we’re happy, and some even wonder why. “What’s different about that guy?”
People who pray with thanksgiving, presenting their requests to God know that, “…the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds if Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) Our minds are then able to think positively. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) Blessings will come our way, and blessings will go out from us as well. Our thanksgiving helps others to be thankful too!
Actress Roma Downey once observed that, “A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.” May this Thanksgiving put you on a road to miracles and a peace that passes all understanding.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com