Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, NIV)
Today’s the first day of fall – so I got the fall decorations out of the attic. As I’m pulling the decorations out, most of them have to do with pumpkins or thanksgiving: thanks, be thankful, in everything give thanks, Thanksgiving…
How sad that I have to pull thanksgiving out of a box once a year! As a Christian, gratefulness should be a defining characteristic for me. Sometimes it is…but often it isn’t. Let’s face it, there’s plenty in life to grumble about. Often my circumstances don’t elicit spontaneous praise. But they should.
That’s exactly what Paul’s talking about here. You wouldn’t know it from this passage, but he was chained in a Roman prison at the time of writing. As bad as his circumstances were, though, he still looked for something for which to be grateful. And surprisingly, if you and I will take the time to look, these aren’t too hard to find.
That’s why Paul talks about our thought-life. You can choose what you spend time thinking about. What you think about may cause you to rejoice and be thankful…or not. But even the challenging stuff can be brought to God in prayer, petition, and request – with thanksgiving. I made a decision yesterday that thanksgiving wouldn’t be something I have to pull out of the attic once a year. I’m going to ask the Holy Spirit to make it my default attitude. I hope you’ll join me.