“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.” Philippians 1:3-4
Each Thanksgiving we gather around the table and talk about the things we’re most grateful for. But long before the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, the Bible instructed Christians to be grateful people. In today’s passage the apostle Paul demonstrates what happens when gratitude permeates a believer’s life.
Notice first that God is the recipient of Paul’s thanks. Many families will celebrate Thanksgiving Day without any thoughts toward God. While they may feel gratitude for all they have, it won’t be recognized as blessings from the Lord. James 1:17 reminds us that every good thing we have is a gift from our heavenly Father. And without Him, we have no hope for anything beyond what this world can offer.
Notice also that people are the object of Paul’s gratitude. More specifically, the Philippian Church. Too often, our thanksgiving selfishly focuses on the temporal. We’re grateful for nice things and comfortable circumstances. Paul reminds us, however, that grateful people are grateful for people. God’s blessings often come through the people He places around us.
The result of Paul’s gratitude was intercession. If we’re truly thankful for the people in our lives, then we’ll pray for them regularly. The very fact that we can talk to the Creator of the world on their behalf is a joy and a privilege.
So, as we celebrate this time of Thanksgiving, examine what you’re most grateful for. What comes to mind first—people or things? Why not stop right now and thank the Lord for specific family members, co-workers, and people in your church? Then take their needs to the Lord in prayer. And remember, when gratitude permeates our lives, expressing it to God becomes a daily occurrence.