ONE OF THE CHARACTERISTICS of the man out of Christ is thanklessness, Rom. 1.21. God and His claims are refused and set aside, self is given a place of exaltation and the inner cravings of the heart stifled by resort to idols.
In contrast with this, consider the child of God ‘and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, … and be ye thankful’, as seen in Colossians 3.15-17. Here we have an abiding, ruling force which does not come from within, and we see thanksgiving in relation to peace. This peace, the peace of God, was given by the Lord Himself before He left His disciples, John 14. 27; 16. 33, and His resurrection salutation was ‘Peace be unto you’, John 20. 19, 21, 26. This ruling force brings under control all that would disturb or agitate the child of God. It is to this peace, we are told in Colossians, that believers are ‘called in one body’. The words are added ‘And be ye thankful’.
In reading the Philippian epistle we find the theme of thanksgiving in chapter 4, verses 5-7; where we have it brought before us as a part of the secret of die peace of God. Whereas in Colossians peace leads to thanksgiving, in Philippians thanksgiving leads to peace. No doubt stress should be laid upon the words ‘in everything’. How true the old hymn is in this when it says:
‘Oh, what peace we often forfeit!
Oh, what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.'
In Colossians 3. 17 we find that ‘giving thanks’ should be associated with every activity undertaken for the Lord, ‘Do all … giving thanks’. This is thanksgiving in relation to service. Truly it has been said that we have more cause to say ‘thank you’ than we have to say ‘please’.
Turning to Colossians 2. 6, 7 we find thanksgiving brought before us as an aid to spiritual protection. In verse 4 we read of a danger, ‘lest any man should beguile you with enticing words’. Again in verse 8 we read of another danger, ‘beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit’. These are two very subtle dangers which the apostle was anxious to warn the Colossian believers against. Sandwiched in between we find the safeguard by which we might be preserved from these God-dishonouring things. ‘As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk therefore in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving’, 2. 7.
In 1 Timothy 2. 1 we have brought to our notice the believer’s thanksgiving in relation to this world. We would all agree, that men ought to give God thanks for the many and varied blessings which He has graciously showered upon them. The wording of these verses would tell us that it is our privilege, on behalf of these who fail in this their great responsibility of ‘rendering unto God the things that be God’s’, to do it for them. Our ministry in and for this world is that of supplication, prayer, intercession (personal and confiding intercourse with God as one able to approach Him), and giving of thanks.
Another aspect from which it might be well to view this theme is found in 2 Corinthians 9. 8-12. Here in a wonderful chapter on giving, we see how the circle of thanksgiving increases. How often in our childhood days we have stood on the edge of a pool and had rivalry among ourselves as to who could throw in the stone that would produce the greatest circles. We were interested to see how, when a pebble was thrown in, the circles increased and extended until they reached the very edge of the pool itself. Is not this the picture drawn for us in this chapter? In verse 8 ‘God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye may abound to every good work’. This then is the pebble thrown in. God gives us something, that we may be able to give to others. Verse 11 suggests that there is no limit to the abundance we might experience, which produces in us thanksgiving to God. The expanding circle is seen in verse 12 where the gift not only supplies the need of the saints, blessed service though this is, but produces in them many thanksgivings to God. Oh, that we may be in the line of these things, that God may be glorified!