"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to youward."—1 Thess. V. 18.
TN everything give thanks—that means a life
of unceasing joy. The bestowment of a gift makes me glad. Giving thanks is the expression of that gladness to the giver. For what in the gift he has bestowed on me, for what he has proved himself to be as a friend, my happiness offers him all it has to give, all he desires—the acknowledgment of indebtedness and obligation and grateful love. Every father does his utmost to make his children happy; he loves not only to see them happy, but to see them connect their happiness with himself and his love. It is the will of God that in everything, in every circumstance and condition, the whole life of His child should be one of unceasing praise and thanksgiving. If it be not always so with us, let us set ourselves to learn the lesson: In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to youward.
In everything give thanks — there is good reason for it. God is not a hard master, who reaps where He has not sown. He never commands joy without giving abundant cause for it. He does not expect thanks where there is nothing to thank for. He would have us remember that, in the moat trying circumstances and the deepest sorrow, there is cause for thanksgiving infinitely outweighing the reason for mourning. Whatever we lose, God and His love are still left us. The very loss is meant to make the love more precious; the trial is love seeking to give itself more completely to us. Whatever we lose, there is always the unspeakable gift—God's own Son to be our portion and our friend. Whatever we lose, there is always a peace that cannot be taken away, a joy that is unspeakable, a riches of glory that will supply every need, an abounding grace that perfects Christ's strength in our weakness. There are always the exceeding great and precious promises, and the heavenly treasures that can never pass away. God is educating us, through loss and trial, into the full enjoyment of our heavenly heritage and the perfect fitness for His own fellowship. So let us believe that the command is most reasonable, and say that this will of God, in everything give thanks, is our will too.
In everything give thanks—this is both the mark and the means of a vigorous Christian life. It draws us off from ourselves, and fixes the heart upon God. It lifts us above the world, and makes us more than conquerors through Him who loved us. It places our peace, our happiness, our life, beyond the reach of circumstances. So far from rendering us indifferent to the suffering of our fellow-men, it fills us with hope in seeking to relieve them, it teaches us what joy there is in the kindness and love of God, and makes that the keynote of our life. It gives wings to our prayer, our faith, our love, to live the true heavenly life in God's presence and worship. It enables us to conquer every temptation with the hallelujah of victory.
In everything give thanks. God Himself will work it in you. This is the will of God in Christ Jesus to youward. We have seen more than once that the will of God is a living, almighty power, working out its own purpose with our intelligent consent. We are co-workers with God—that means, not that He does part and we do part, but that He does all in us, and we do all through Him. It means that He works in us to will and to do, and that we, through faith in His working, in the power that worketh in us, work out His will. Just because it is the will of God, the believing soul is sure that it can be. It is the will of God in Christ. This expression is so frequent that its meaning is passed over. All that God is and does to us, He is and does through our Lord Jesus. The Father does nothing in us but through the Son. The Son does nothing but as the Father does it through Him. Our experience of God's work in us depends upon our abiding in Christ, our drawing and remaining near to God in and through Christ. To a soul seeking its life in Christ alone, the will of God ensures a life of unceasing praise and thanks.
In everything give thanks. It needs a life of entire consecration. Many of God's commands become an unbearable burden, an impossible strain, because we look to the feeble, sickly life to do what only the strength of vigorous health can perform. We cannot take up one part of God's will, and do it when we please. A life of undivided and absolute surrender to all God's will is the condition of being able to perform any part of it effectively. Every command to perform some special part of God's will is a call to inquire whether we have accepted all His will as the law of our life. The soul that has done this, that is learning the lesson of daily guidance for daily duty, and is prepared to meet every new demand with the question as to its implicit submission to that will, and its unquestioning confidence in the provision of sufficient strength, all settled, has found the secret of obedience to this command too. When God is known as our exceeding joy, when a walk in the light of His countenance all the day is counted equally a privilege and an indispensable necessity, the giving of thanks in everything is not looked upon as a hopeless attainment. Because it is the will of a loving and Almighty Father, that will can be done.
In everything give thanks. These are indeed the Christians the world stands in need of. It is the happy Christian—not the happy man who happens also to be a Christian, but the Christian who proves that his happiness is in God, and who lives the life of joy and praise because he lives in God's presence,—who will find the joy of the Lord his strength in God's service, and who will be the best witness to what the grace of God can do to give true joy and blessing. It is the will of God in Christ to usward that this unceasing thanksgiving should be our life—let us rest content with nothing less.
"I exhort therefore that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all men. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who willeth that all men should be saved."—1 Tim. ii. 1-4.