Two simple words that are not at all simple to put into practice.
Give: to freely hand over
Thanks: express gratitude
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus..” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 -ESV
According to J Hutchinson “The clause ‘in everything give thanks’ seems to suggest not merely that the heart is at all times, and for all things to be grateful, but that the gratitude is to overflow into every action of the life—thanks giving and thanks living. Here is a sense in which we are evermore to pay back, as it were… that debt ever due, never cancelled, we have ceaselessly to pay, and in paying it to find our highest joy.”
This theologian sheds new light on several aspects of “give thanks”.
First, that our gratitude to God should overflow into every action thus leading to “thanks living”! What a beautiful word picture. Living a life that overflows with ongoing thanks giving. Our thanks is not be the an occasional act that we engage only when things are going well or when we have had a particular difficulty and seen an end to it.
This is counter-intuitive, isn’t it? When someone asks you what you are thankful for, isn’t our response nearly always tied to a particular good thing that has happened to us, something we have brought into our possession, or the end to something that was viewed as a bad thing?
Can we (I am asking myself this question right along with you) separate the circumstances of our lives from what we are thankful for, and instead – accept giving thanks as an ongoing, never cancelled debt that is due of us simply because of God’s redemptive work in us? This kind of living comes only from hearts that ponder the deeds of God – not ourselves and our daily plights.
Remember the definition of giving is to freely hand over. It is to be a cheerful action. “…and in paying it to find our highest joy.” Here is another counter-intuitive insight. How often do we pay a debt and find joy in it? Yes, there are times when that is the outcome of paying a debt. But, the reward for this kind of thank living is ongoing joy that permeates tough times, good times, painful times, and ALL times.
This then is an “Ah Ha” moment for me, because I see – yet again, that what God wills and purposes for us to do is not just for his good pleasure but ours also!