What Are You Thankful For? A Lesson From the Apostle Paul

What Are You Thankful For? A Lesson From the Apostle Paul November 24, 2010

Each year around Thanksgiving, it’s common to think about the things you’re thankful for. My list includes freedom in Christ, my wife, family, and living in a free country just to name a few.

I wanted to take a different approach this year, so I tried to think of someone in the Bible who always appeared to be thankful – The Apostle Paul. It’s not hard to read through his letters and find verse after verse expressing his thankfulness. Reading the things other people are thankful for can help us to reflect on those very things in our lives, so I wanted to share five things that Paul expressed thanks for.

Paul Was Thankful For…

God’s Grace

In 2 Corinthians 9:15, Paul says “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” He was speaking to the church in Corinth about God’s gift of his son Jesus. Through God’s grace, we’ve been given life through the resurrection of his son, and Paul makes known his thankfulness for God’s grace over and over in his writings.

Spiritual Riches in Christ

Ephesians 1:15, 16 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

The spiritual riches in Christ that Paul thanks God for includes redemption, wisdom, understanding, hope, and the promise of Christ’s return. Paul can’t help but express to his readers what he’s thankful for – and the best part is that we can be thankful for these same promises!

Those in Ministry

1 Corinthians 1: 4-7 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking an in all your knowledge – because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

We can be thankful for those who serve in the ministry using whatever spiritual gifts they’ve received from God. The body of Christ is built of many parts, and taking the time to be thankful for the other parts is crucial for a healthy body.

Faithful Work of the Church

1 Thessalonians 1:2, 3 We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produce by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

When was the last time you thanked the nursery worker, Sunday school teacher, or church janitor? We need to remember to be thankful for the ministry workers because their work is meaningful. Many of those jobs take a special calling (i.e. nursery worker…) and some really are a labor prompted by love.

Love for Others

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

Though listed last in this list, it should be something we remind ourselves of everyday. Loving our neighbor as ourselves should be a goal we make for each new day. It’s so important that Christ put it second after loving God and said that it sums up the entire law.

This Thanksgiving, be sure to remember these five things that Paul expressed thanks for in his letters. What are some things you are thankful for? I shared four in the beginning of this post and would love to hear one (or a few) from you!

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  • Tim,

    Great list. What amazes me about Paul’s thankful attitude is that he suffered so much throughout his life and was nevertheless thankful in good times and bad. I love 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Especially the “in all circumstances”.

    My own list mirrors yours, but is framed with “God’s free gift of grace.” Everything else flows from having accepted that gift. I am also thankful for my friends (I don’t have lots of friends, but the ones I have are high quality) , my good health (every time I have health issues, I make a vow to appreciate my health when it is good) and the work opportunities I have in a free nation.

    Wishing you and your family a great and thankful Thanksgiving.

    Thanks for reminding us of the spirit of this holiday.

    • Tim

      Thanks for sharing what you’re thankful for, Joe. Everything else is meaningless without God’s free gift of grace.

      Have a great Thanksgiving too!