Content and Thankful Hearts
First Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As we embark on this season of Thanksgiving, let’s reflect on why God desires us to be thankful people.
Before we can sufficiently answer the question of why our thankfulness is important to God, we must first understand where thankfulness comes from. In 2 Corinthians 4:15 the Apostle Paul sums up his hope for his ministry by saying, “…As grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” We see the direct link between grace and thanksgiving: as grace is extended, thanksgiving increases. This verse teaches that thanksgiving or gratitude arises from a proper understanding of the grace God has given us. The more we understand grace, the more grateful we will be. We grow in gratitude toward God who is the giver of grace, and therefore God is glorified.
The Bible teaches that grace is the free gift of salvation given by God and it is not to be earned by works so that no one may boast in himself. God has extended His grace to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who, by His death on the cross, purchased the pardon for my sin and thereby granted me access to spiritual life in God. To those who receive the gift of Christ by faith, this grace engenders a humble spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving.
When someone has received the love and grace of Christ, then our thankfulness is important to God because it shows that we believe God truly is all we need. Thankfulness reveals a content heart. In 1 Timothy 6 Paul urges his young disciple Timothy to pursue godliness with contentment. He says that some pursue godliness as a means of gain, meaning that some pursue God and attend church for something other than God Himself.
The opposite of contentment is covetousness. When we covet what someone else has, we are not content with what we have and therefore reveal to God that we are not content with Him. He is not enough for us. Our heart screams that if we had that thing we covet, we would truly be fulfilled. We struggle with what others have that we want, we struggle with wanting to be married, we struggle with wanting to have children, we struggle with wanting to get to the next life stage. The problem with this struggle is that it never ends. If we are not thankful right here and now, we will not be thankful in the next season of life. Our discontent reveals that God is truly not the treasure of our life.
We all want to be thankful because we know thankfulness comes from a full heart. The truth is that we will never be fulfilled in this life until we understand the purpose to which we all were created. Colossians 1:16 says that all things were created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus. You and I were created for a relationship with God through Jesus. Pride deceives us into thinking we can live independently, and this separates us from the only One who can satisfy. Until we embrace Him and pursue a relationship with Him we will never be full in this life. If we have this purposeful relationship with Christ, then our thankful hearts will abound to the glory of God!