As we approach Thanksgiving, our hearts turn, perhaps more than usual, toward God in thanks for His many blessings.
Indeed, our lives are full of His blessings. As Psalm 68:19 tells us, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”
But there is a difference between annually giving thanks and cultivating a truly thankful heart. Even unsaved people give thanks on Thanksgiving, but only God’s people live with a daily sacrifice of praise to Him.
How do we live with gratitude?
First Thessalonians 5:18 provides the answer: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Do you want to cultivate gratitude? It’s simple.
1. Give Continual Thanks
At first glance, you might think I’m minimizing the challenges we face toward developing grateful hearts—as if I’m saying, “Do you want to be a great employee? It’s simple. Be a good employee.”
But it’s not that at all. The reality is that God has given us a specific action that helps us develop gratitude toward Him, and that is the decision to give thanks.
The verb give in this verse is present tense. It is to be continuous.
How often should we give thanks?
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.—Hebrews 13:15
Charles Spurgeon observed, “When we bless God for mercies, we usually prolong them. When we bless God for miseries, we usually end them. Praise is the honey of life which a devout heart extracts from every bloom of providence and grace.”
The continual giving of thanks to God—even when it is a sacrifice of praise—develops within us a real heart of gratitude.
2. Give Unconditional Thanks
If we worry we might run out of good things for which to thank God, we have no fear—for we are to thank Him in everything.
We give thanks in blessings, and we give thanks in trials. And we find in Scripture the expressions of gratitude for both.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.—James 1:17
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;—James 1:2
The verse not only relates God’s command for gratitude, but it also reveals the heart of the Apostle Paul.
Paul preached, and he gave thanks.
Paul suffered, and he gave thanks.
Paul saw people come to Christ, and he gave thanks.
Paul endured persecution, and he gave thanks.
Paul faced ministry disappointments, and he gave thanks.
Paul saw Christians come to spiritual maturity, and he gave thanks.
Do you want to be a thankful person?
How often? Continually.
How much? Unconditionally.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;—Ephesians 5:20