"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
(1Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:20; Phil 4:6; Col. 3:17)
Unless we are thankful, we're not emotionally healthy.
Or, to put it another way, we're out of touch with reality.
All of us owe so much to other people -- people to whom we should occasionally express it.
But, of course, a lack of gratitude is far more serious than depriving a worthy person
of some much-deserved expression of appreciation.
Unthankfulness represents either self-obsession or resentment of others.
Neither condition is emotionally healthy.
The person who is engrossed in himself is badly disoriented to life.
He will not find happiness because people will not like him.
Life will be cruel to him, at least as seen through his own eyes.
Likewise, the person who resents others has shut himself off from his only means of meaningful joy.
And he has reached some false conclusions which will make his life a chain reaction of errors.
All this is true even apart from Christianity and spirituality.
There are many people who are not really religious and yet recognize their debt to others.
They are grateful to parents, friends, teachers, and associates.
They may be lacking in spiritual understanding and commitment,
but they are, at least, aware of their physical interdependence.
Of course, it is true that God made us, but there is much more for which to be grateful than that.
Our text exhorts us to "give thanks in all up circumstances."
This links gratitude not merely to the past, but also to present and potential conditions.
At first this sounds like a simple overstatement.
Hasty generalizations under the impulse are understandable.
Some some may think that if Paul would have stopped to think about it, he might have qualified his remarks.
Perhaps he would have added, "Well, at least give thanks for those things that you believe are God's will for you."
But that's not what he said, and the evidence is clear that he had no intention of saying any such thing.
In four different letters to four different churches, he declared essentially the same truth -- "Give thanks in all circumstances!"
What's more, he even added, "For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thess.5:18)
If to give thanks in all circumstances is God's will, then why would the apostle Paul want to make a point of that?
Why would it be God's will for us to express gratitude for all of life's circumstances?
Why is thankfulness so important?
To Be Thankful In Every Circumstance Forces Us To Believe In A Divine Plan.
We are confident "That in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to His purpose."
We do not know why we are beset with evil and suffering.
The Bible teaches that God can take any circumstance and convert it into an avenue of blessing.
Let's be specific.
How can we convince the world of God's existence and of His goodness, if we are exhibiting displeasure
with what he has allowed to be our lot in life?
It is a powerful witness whenever a Christian is able to face adversity bravely and with gratitude
for God's control of all things.
Gratitude is also the only attitude compatible with the worship.
Unless we can find it in our hearts to thank God for the life He has given us, we will not be able
to praise and worship him.
This is really the crossroads for many people.
When they become unhappy with their lot in life, they become dissatisfied with God
and His operation in the world as well as in their lives.
They lose their ability to worship and to praise God, which means that their whole relationship
with God is in trouble.
It is important for us to always maintain our gratitude to God.
Regardless of circumstances, God is still in control.
Thanksgiving is an especially good time to remind ourselves of all the blessings
we receive from his beneficient hand.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed his followers, "Do not worry about your life,
what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
Life is more than food, and the body more then clothes." (Luke 12: 22 -- 23)
We all know material things are important, and to some degree essential.
Jesus never says material things are unimportant.
What He does say is that in comparison to spiritual realities, material things are of considerably less value.
Maybe you have heard someone say that money isn't everything,
but it sure beats whatever is in second place or that it is better than not having it.
Our problem isn't simply our interest in the material things, our problem is in our lack of appreciation
for spiritual realities.
That's the way we should look at this Scripture.
If a man's life doesn't consist in an abundance of possessions, then in what does it consist?
And when we discover the real essence of life during this Thanksgiving season let us be grateful
for the things that make a life.
Man has two basic human needs.
As Christians We Believe That People And Possibilities Make Up Our Lives.
People are an essential ingredient of life.
None of us can exist without people.
We must have people who love us and to whom we can express our love.
Our lives are inter-twined with the lives of others.
Unless we have someone who cares for us and for whom we care, it is doubtful that we can
or will sustain our lives much longer.
This fact makes questionable the quest for anonymity, that is, the desire to live unknown in our surroundings.
We all appreciate privacy, but most of us have too much of it.
Someone has said that the desire for anonymity reveals psychological problems or reveals selfishness.
A poet declared that "No man is an island."
That poet was right was right, because the Bible reminds us, "None of the us liveth to himself..."
(Romans 14: )
This Thanksgiving season let us thank God for people - for all kinds of people.
If there weren't all kinds, then probably no one would love us.
Don't you ever ask yourself how can my friends put up with me?
Thank God for people!
If we're just trying to get ahead financially, instead of making investments in friendship -- we're fools!
May God help us to realize the real worth of our associations with people.
And may we be truly grateful for their tremendous contributions they make to our lives.
If Life Is To Be Meaningful, We Must Feel A Sense Of Worth To Ourselves And To Others.
When we have accomplish that goal, we will have demonstrated our gratitude
for all the things that make our lives truly whole and satisfying.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White