1 Thess 5:18, Thankful “in” everything, but not “for” everything.

Wednesday May 3, 2023


An ungrateful person is focusing on something that they are unhappy with.


Grateful people appreciate their lives. They are also happy. They also want to thank the people that they appreciate, and at the top of that list is God, and so they pray a lot. 


Ungrateful people are grumpy, callous, and seem to think that God and others need to be doing something different.


Would you rather live in a mansion filled with ungrateful people or a small house full of appreciative, grateful people?


Pro 21:19

It is better to live in a desert land

Than with a contentious and vexing woman.


What does it mean to be grateful? Generally we all understand it.

It is a relief when you need it.


Our passage says that “in everything be thankful.”


Why do we need to be thankful for everything? In Christ we are citizens of heaven and are to behave as heaven does, which is not at the whims and changes that the world goes through.


1Th 5:16-18

Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.


En panti eucharisteite – in all things you be thankful.

(present imperative) = continuously.

“in” not “for”


Giving thanks for everything is a very different matter.


Col 3:17

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.


What does thankfulness look like in a person, and why is it important to the health of a soul?


Thanksgiving = praise to God.


Thanksgiving to God (practically, with few exceptions - thanksgiving is to God in Scripture) is praise to God. The Bible uses the word this way, which shouldn’t surprise us.


Praise God. Anyone can say it. Few actually do it. Praising of God certainly has times of emotional ecstasy, but they are few and isolated. We are to always praise Him. The mindset of praise is the mindset of the Lord, which was continual.


In Psa 69, David speaks of incredible suffering that he endures at the hands of others. As NT folk, when we read we feel the impression of a messianic theme:


Psa 69:1-4 For the choir director; according to Shoshannim. A Psalm of David.

Save me, O God,

For the waters have threatened my life.

2 I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold;

I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.

3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched;

My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

4 Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head;

Those who would destroy me are powerful, being wrongfully my enemies;

What I did not steal, I then have to restore.


And then it becomes clear that it is certainly messianic.


Psa 69:20-21

Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick.

And I looked for sympathy, but there was none,

And for comforters, but I found none.

21 They also gave me gall for my food

And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.


What David experienced, God used as inspiration for prophecy. But the connection of David to his greater Son is not lost in us. We don’t write prophetic psalms, but we are to experience very difficult situations in life and from their midst praise God for who He is and all He does.


So why the difficult situations? If we can be grateful to God for who He is to us and praise Him for who He is, even when His plan calls for us to suffer at the hands of evil, then we are truly grateful just for Him. It is the only true thankfulness since everything other than Him is created by Him. If you were grateful for [say] food but you were not grateful to God who gave it, then your gratitude has no depth and therefore no reality. We are to be grateful for the gift (really enjoy the food) and for the Giver.


And from the midst of it, while David prays, and we should highlight his patience (for it applies to our passage):


Psa 69:13

But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, at an acceptable time;

O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness,

Answer me with Your saving truth.


“At an acceptable time;” is a line from a man with patience and desire only for God’s glory. For who among us deserve any glory at all. If God gets more glory by delaying our deliverance, shouldn’t we want that?


And also, there is a note of urgency in his voice, just so we know David is not superhuman. He’s just like us.


Psa 69:16-17

Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good;

According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me,

17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant,

For I am in distress; answer me quickly.


“I’m willing to wait on you Lord, but please make it quick!”


At the end of the psalm comes our word - praise.


Psa 69:34-36

Let heaven and earth praise Him,

The seas and everything that moves in them.

35 For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah,

That they may dwell there and possess it.

36 The descendants of His servants will inherit it,

And those who love His name will dwell in it.


Praising God (being thankful) is a continuous mindset of the greatness of God’s grace.


We should not miss in this last stanza how praise to God is linked with eschatology, last days. We will inherit the New Jerusalem. All three of our commandments in 1Th 5:16-18 are repeatedly linked to the last days. This makes perfect sense. We rejoice, pray, and give thanks because our Lord is coming in victory, like a thief in the night, and we will be with Him in this way forever. That is truly something to be thankful for.


Rev 11:17

[24 elders] "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.


This passage describes the Lord Jesus as “who are and who were,” and we almost say it, “who is to come,” but that is left out in this passage because in it, He has come.


© Grace and Truth Ministries / Pastor Joseph Sugrue • cgtruth.org • All rights reserved.