Give Thanks in All Things – by Desmond Ford

Aug 28, 2015 1213

GratitudeThe words in Ephesians, which urge us to always give thanks for everything, were written by a man in prison who, not many years hence, was to be beheaded by order of that monster Nero. The author had “been exposed to death again and again” (2 Cor 11:23).

He had been beaten five times by the authorities-thirty-nine lashes a time. On three other occasions he had been thrashed with rods, and at least once stoned. Several times he had been shipwrecked, and knew what it was to spend a night and a day in the open sea. Constantly on the move, he had been in danger from bandits, Gentiles, Jews, and natural forces, as well as Christian apostates. Trying to bring the Corinthian believers to their senses, he wrote:

I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (2 Cor 11:27 NIV) This was the man who not only spoke about giving thanks for every thing but also who actually did it! Read the letter to the Philippians and see. Note how often the word “joy” or “rejoicing” occurs in that prison letter. We are to give thanks in all things.

But Paul, we are no apostles! Did you really mean it? Give thanks, always, for all things?

His response is clear and definite: Yes, I am telling you how to live aright. I am saying that instead of the ecstasy of worldly intoxication through alcohol, or other short-lived indulgences, be so submitted to the indwelling Spirit that you will sing and praise, and continually voice your gratitude.

No wonder Ephesians has been called Paul’s “third heaven” epistle (2 Cor 12:2), and the “Alps” of the New Testament. “Here we are bidden by God to mount, step by step, until we reach the highest possible point where man can stand.” Even unbelieving psychologists will admit that the Christian who practices gratitude thereby blunts life’s blows, and is energized for significant achievements.

Notice the context (in Ephesians) of Paul’s admonition: his praises follow his warning to be careful how we live. Observe how this is then followed by one and a half chapters of counsel about our regular daily attitudes and practices.

What this means in effect is this:

whoever would serve God must begin with the spirit of praise. It is the grateful heart which is the mainspring of all obedience.

The succeeding verses detail the common duties of ordinary life – which is just where all of us often fail – and here in the heart of the practical section of the Ephesian letter is the motivating key to all right behavior: gratitude!

But you have noticed – and questioned, I am sure – the words which are really shocking in the Pauline counsel. “Give thanks ALWAYS for ALL THINGS?” How can that be? Are not lots of things which surround and overtake us, evil? Am I to give thanks for these?

Yes. There is no dodging the apostle’s meaning. I have tried half-a-dozen translations, and could find no loophole in any of them. I am to thank God for those things which make the natural man curse. I am to thank God for the things which tempt me, either to anger, or despair, or bewilderment. All things . . . always … all things … always.

– Des Ford. Rom 8:27–32. Adapted from “Think and Thank.”

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