This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, What to Do When You Don’t Feel Thankful.
I imagine that all of us would agree that this commandment—to thank God at all times for all things—is perhaps the hardest in all of the Bible to practice. But it is the secret to a happy and productive life.
I want you to notice several things about this passage of Scripture. First, I want you to notice when we should be thankful. We are to give thanks always. If Paul had said sometimes, that wouldn't be so hard. But he clearly said always.
Now we're coming to Thanksgiving Day, but you and I both know that one day is not enough. Psalm 68:19 says, “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loadeth us with benefits...” Every day you get a fresh load. You should never pray without thanking God.
Why should God give you anything else if you don't thank Him for what He's already given you? Many of us need to pull out some of the groans and shove in some hallelujahs into our prayers. If you don’t already, begin putting some thank you's in your prayers.
And what should our thanks be for? For all things! Thank God for your faith, for your friends, for your food, and for the water you drink? You may ask, “Do I have to thank God for dirty dishes?” Well, a lot of people would like to have some dirty dishes; that would mean they had something to eat. But also, just be thankful for your fortune—the things that God has given you and done for you.
In church, a family heard of a couple giving a significant love offering in memory of their son who had died on the battlefield. On the way home, the wife asked her husband, “Why don't we give an offering of an equal amount for our son?” He said, “Why? Our son wasn't killed.” She replied, “Don't you think that's a good reason to give an offering?”
But how? How is it possible to thank God always for all things? Beginning in verse eighteen, Paul says it is possible because of three things. First of all, we are to give thanks in the Spirit. He says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” You see, to be Spirit‑filled is to be thankful. If you're not thankful, you're not Spirit‑filled. In contrast, there is no way you can be Spirit‑filled and be unthankful. The mark of a Spirit‑filled life is gratefulness.
So give thanks in the Spirit, and verse 20 says to give thanks “unto God and the Father.”James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Don't think negatively about God. God is good. He is your Father.
So, in the Spirit…unto the Father…and through the Son. Verse 20 also says to give thanks “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You thank God in the name or with the authority of Christ. You don't have to understand all that God is doing. Even if you don't understand it, you can just say, “In the name of Jesus, I thank You.”
Make it your daily habit, as I do, to lift your heart to God in praise as you get out of bed each morning. Just say, “Lord God, I love You, and I praise You.” What a great way to start your day and live your life!
In closing, I want you to think about something. There are basically four levels of life.