There are things which are deceptively powerful. Those tiny air fresheners for cars are not for everyone. For most of my family, they are just too powerful for us to enjoy the scent. Yet, you can’t deny their affect! In the Christian life we have such a deceptively powerful ally to our walk of faith. It is thankfulness.
Thankfulness is deceptive. We hardly consider it. Sure, we have a holiday dedicated to being thankful, but we don’t often think about what regular thankfulness does in us. We don’t realize how it empowers us or how weak we are if we neglect it.
Paul understood this truth. When concluding his letter to the church in Philippi he says,
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.Philippians 4:11-12
Paul says here that he knows a secret. It is the secret of knowing how to thrive in both humble prosperous circumstances. It is the secret of not being limited by your circumstances. What is that secret? It is the contentment that comes from thankfulness. He tells Timothy this in his first letter to the young pastor. He says,
6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.1 Timothy 6:6-9
When we practice thankfulness we are intentionally remembering the good that God has done in our lives. This opens our eyes to the reality of God’s work in us. It also helps us see what we have instead of what we don’t have. This is the warning of verse 9. It isn’t a blanket condemnation of having wealth. It is a warning about the perpetual wish that we had what we think others have = money. Without thankfulness and the contentment that comes with it, envy grows in us until we feel the temptation to compromise our values to get that thing we think will make us happy. Time, relationships, and even our families become casualties to envy. Without thankfulness we want and want. With thankfulness we discover what we have.
What did thankfulness help Paul discover? He discovered that no matter how much or little he had that,
13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13
19 My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19
This is the ultimate power of thankfulness. It helps us see how much God can, has, and will do in us. It stops us from constantly second guessing that God loves us. It stops us from constantly doubting that God will work in us as He has promised. It empowers us to walk in faith because we see God’s hand in our lives. Those who see what God has done know that God is working.
Do you see? Perhaps you have wondered if God really works in the lives of people. As a Christian, perhaps you have wondered if God is working in your life. Begin practicing intentional thankfulness. Thank Him for 5 different things every day. Sure, you are going to repeat some things, but try not to repeat them daily. Look for the other things to thank Him for. As you do, you will see how God is working. You will discover a power that you didn’t expect. Let what God has done in the past inform what you believe God will do in your present!
Something to think about,