What makes you thankful?
Our lists usually include things like family, a trouble-free day, an extra (unexpected) blessing or two, and our salvation. Since we are to be thankful for all things, those obviously are fine objects for our gratitude. But I have often been impressed by the things that stimulated Paul’s gratitude. And I was reminded of that this morning as I read 1 Thessalonians 1.
What made Paul thankful?
- the Thessalonians’ work of faith (v. 3)
- the Thessalonians’ labor of love (v. 3)
- the Thessalonians’ steadfastness of hope in Christ (v. 3)
- the Thessalonians’ salvation and election by God (v. 4)
- the Thessalonians’ reception of the word of God, even while in trials (v. 6)
- the Thessalonians’ exemplary lives (v. 7)
- the Thessalonians’ evangelistic testimony (v. 8)
- the Thessalonians’ worship of and rest in God (vv. 9-10)
Notice a trend? Paul’s gratitude focused on the progress of faith in others. Certainly he was thankful for his own salvation (see Rom. 7:24-25; 1 Tim. 1:12-17; Eph. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 5:16-18 as a few examples). Yet his letters also reflect a regular recitation of gratitude for how the salvation of Christ was being worked in and expressed through the lives of other believers.
Here is a helpful example for us. When our own circumstances are difficult and trying, can we look outward and see how the Lord is preserving and maturing other believers around us? And can we not only give thanks to God for His work of grace in the lives of others, but can we also express our gratitude to those in whom we see clear evidence of God’s redemptive work?
So I ask again, what makes you thankful?