In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
–1 Thessalonians 5:18
In her book “The Hiding Place,” Corrie ten Boom shared how she learned to be thankful in every circumstance. She and her sister Betsie were moved to the horrific Nazi death camp Ravensbruck. When they arrived, they found that the barracks to which they were assigned were overcrowded and flea-infested. Earlier that morning, Corrie and Betsie had been reading 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Betsie said, “Corrie, I think we ought to thank God for the fleas.” Corrie was reluctant at first; she could not find any reason to thank God for the fleas. Finally, she relented and thanked God for the fleas in the barracks. As the months passed, Corrie and her sister were able to conduct Bible studies. They were able to lead other prisoners to faith in Christ without any intrusion from the guards–intrusion they had experienced in other death camps. Finally, they found out why the guards never bothered them or molested them as they did other prisoners in that camp. The reason? You guessed it: the fleas.
Learning to thank God for everything in our lives is one sign of being like Jesus Christ. And it is one way we become Heavenly minded Christians. This week, we are going to learn why it is so important to develop the all-important attitude of gratitude in our lives as well.
In Colossians 3, Paul revealed that one key principle for becoming like Christ is to express gratitude to God regularly. Throughout this letter to the Colossians, Paul talked about the importance of making thanksgiving a regular part of your life. In fact, notice in Colossians 3:15-17 how many times Paul mentioned the words “thanksgiving” or “thankful.” He wrote, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
We find this emphasis on thanksgiving not only in the book of Colossians, but we also see it throughout the Bible. Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” And Psalm 50:15 says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” Psalm 95:2 says, “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.”
Why does the Bible place such an emphasis on being thankful continually? Giving praise to God, thanking Him for what He has already done for you, is a good way to keep your heart and affections focused on the things above, where God is.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Count Blessings, Not Sheep” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.