Are we to thank God for everything– or in everything?
In Ephesians 5:20 the apostle Paul describes giving thanks for all things as one of four evidences of being controlled by the Spirit of God. By contrast to being under in influence of alcohol, Paul describes those who are filled with the Spirit as:
- Speaking to one another in song
- Singing to God from the heart
- Giving thanks always for all things, and,
- Submitting to one another in the fear of God.
The idea of giving thanks for everything raises the question of the author’s intent. Writing in behalf of God, does Paul really mean to be thankful for everything– even the terrible and evil things that come into our lives– or that we do to others?
Or is the intent of the inspired text indicating that, when God is in control of our lives, we find ourselves thanking him for all of the good things he does for us and others.
Paul’s words in 1Thessalonians 5:18 give us another way of thinking about giving thanks that we might be able to affirm with more certainty. There, once again linked with being warm and open to the Spirit of God, he urges us to give thanks “in everything.”
In other words, even in the worst conditions of life, a child of God can give thanks for God’s presence, patience, grace, understanding, faithfulness, forgiveness, love…
Seems like an important distinction to think about. Even when seeing the good that God has brought out of the worst of our life… are we really thankful for the evil… or are we thankful for what God has been able to do in through, around… and in spite of?