I don’t know if you have noticed but most people are oozing with negativity. No, I am not talking about the national media stuff that seems to be constant. I am speaking about just everyday life. It seems that almost all conversation focuses on what is wrong with something. It could be your car, yourself, your kids, your spouse, your job… you name it. What is truly sad is that most followers of Christ are no different from others.
One of many ways that God has ordained for His people to be a light to others is by being Thankful. Now before we move on, I am not talking about the other people that are un-thankful in your life. I want to talk about you and me. Let’s take a few minutes to make this personal. When is the last time you gave thanks to God for something? I am sure for many it was the prayer before eating. But let’s dig a little deeper, when was that last time, if you exclude saying grace before a meal? I believe that a lack of thanksgiving robs of us our God-given freedom in living.
Now you do not have to look hard to find the Bible admonition to give thanks… here is one. “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) I don’t think I need to expand on this, but let me share an illustration to remind us that “Being Thankful” requires us to be intentional.
This past week was a very busy week for me. There were a number of great things that happened like seeing a major milestone accomplished on the development of the church’s property. There were some opportunities to take care of some things that needed to get fixed as well as ministry to others. But my week was not all rainbows and unicorns. My preparation for Sunday’s message took much longer this week because of the difficulty of the passage, some procrastination and then computer problems when I was coming down to my weekly Friday deadline. This meant that I finished the week without finishing my message and not completing all the extras that need to be done (stuff like the outline and PowerPoint). I also had an out of town obligation on Saturday that should have allowed me some study time in the morning before the afternoon event. The problem was I experienced more computer problems. Now, if you know that I am a computer geek this is significant. It took me a couple of hours to work around the problem and then I was off and running. I was able to complete my sermon and was pretty juiced to minister God’s Word the next day. The small things like the Outline and PowerPoint could be done when we got back early Saturday evening. But then things took a turn for the worse, the file that I saved did not save. Don’t Ask. I was very frustrated to put it nicely. The Lord let me wallow in my pity for a bit before he reminded what I was preaching on….”Learning to Be Thankful.”
God brought to mind the verse that I shared above. I was a living illustration of the difficulty at times of being thankful. I was not thankful when I learned that file did not save. Let’s be honest, I did not want to be thankful either! But I don’t see any loophole in the verse. It does not say be thankful with things are going good. It does not say be thankful when you feel like it. It says, “Give thanks in all circumstances….” It is a call to be intentional. It is a command to focus on who we are in Christ rather than being controlled by the circumstances of life. And that, my fellow followers of Jesus, is what makes us attractive to others. Our relationship with Christ give us something that they do not have, a Godly perspective on life that regardless of what happens, we know that God is in control and He is always going to work things out for His glory and our best.
So our challenge is this. The next time you start to complain, take a moment to thank God for what He has done or is doing in your life. The freedom you experience from negativity will be refreshing to you and others!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson