Giving Thanks in and for All Things

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Eph. 5:20 Thess. 5:18
These two scriptures, often classed together, are yet very different in their significance. The latter is plainly an exhortation: "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." It is not, as the reader will observe, for everything, but in everything, give thanks. And there are few Christians who would not acknowledge, we will not say their obligation, but rather, their privilege to render thanksgiving to God in all their circumstances and trials. They may be passing through deep sorrows or severe sufferings, and yet, viewing these in the presence of God, they will find abundant cause for praise. Not only so, but, as the Apostle here says, It "is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning" you. This puts the matter on another ground, revealing what is acceptable to God, and, if it may be so expressed, how grateful to Him are the thanksgivings of His people.
Turning now to the former scripture, it will be as plainly seen that it is not an exhortation. Let the reader note well the context. We are bidden not to be "drunk with wine, wherein is excess," but to "be filled with the Spirit"; and then three things are indicated as the consequence. First, our hearts will be overflowing with praise, "speaking," as it is said, "to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord"; then we shall, besides this, be "giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"; and last, we shall be "submitting" ourselves "one to another in the fear of God."
We are not then expected—and this is the point to be noticed—to give thanks always for all things as a matter of subjection to the will of God, as in the case of giving thanks in everything, but the former of these two things will only flow out as fruit of being filled with the Spirit. If therefore we desire—and what believer would not desire to be in such a state?—to be giving thanks always for all things, we must first seek to be filled with the Spirit. Now it is precisely here that the difficulty meets us, for is it not true that few of us are willing to be so filled? For indeed it involves much, even the constant refusing of self, and the daily bearing of the cross—incessant watchfulness that we be not drunk with wine (that is, seeking to be exhilarated with any of the joys of earth) and ever bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. But He gives more grace, and sufficient grace even for this; and surely none of us should have any lower object than this which the Word sets before us of being filled with the Spirit. What a change would then be wrought in our daily lives! and what power too would characterize our walk and service! Even, therefore, if we can already give thanks in everything, we should also seek grace to be in that state in which "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" would be its expression in the power of the Holy Ghost.