Last week was Thanksgiving week, so what better time to discuss thanksgiving in life and in marriage?

Philippians 4:4-9  4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Considering the passage above, I would argue the following:
  • We are COMMANDED to rejoice[1] in the Lord (v.4). To rejoice in someone it involves delight, praise, adoration, and thankfulness towards that person. Consequently, wouldn’t this apply to all things, since the Lord is the Lord of all? If we are not rejoicing, what does this communicate to the Lord about our gratefulness about what He has done for us? 
  • Prayer and supplication[2] are linked to thanksgiving (v.6). Food for thought: Would it even be prayer if thanksgiving didn’t accompany it?
  • Can you have peace without thanksgiving (v. 7 &9)? Remember: Biblical peace is more than just a lack of conflict, it also includes joy, completeness, and wholeness which comes from the Hebrew concept of shalom. In our culture, peace generally only means the absence of conflict; therefore, we feel we can accomplish peace through ignoring or not associating with those we disagree with. Biblical peace on the other hand is much deeper, it is about a wholesome relationship TOWARDS one another. Thus, when we are at peace with someone, we must be engaged with them in a loving and caring way; it can never involve ignoring them. Those of you who are married, you know if your spouse is not speaking to you, then you are definitely not at peace with one another.
  • Note: The Bible states that Unthankfulness is a character trait of unbelievers (Luke 6:32-36; Romans 1:21-22; 2 Timothy 3:1-2). – Thus, as believers, when we have a spirit of unthankfulness we should be asking ourselves, “Is this attitude glorifying and honoring God?”

So, if having an attitude of thanksgiving is so critical, how do we accomplish this? Paul tells us in verse 8 that we are to think [to credit, count, reckon; regard, consider] any and all things positive in our lives, whether in general or specifically to our marriage. Thus, we are exhorted to purposefully have a glass more than half full attitude. Sadly, I often see the opposite among believers, especially in marriages. This attitude is characterized a victim or “woe is me attitude.” The author of Hebrews calls this a root of bitterness in 12:15 and Ephesians 4:31 tells us to put away all bitterness. Bitterness is a cancer to our joy and peace in life and especially in marriage. We need to guard against this and purposefully maintain a grateful heart by pondering all that God and our spouse have done for us. Remember, if we even have a complaint or grievance against anyone, much less our spouse we are to forgive just a Christ forgave us (Colossians 3:13). We need to put away those negative thoughts and pursue peace (Romans 12:19), through abiding in Him and we will be in a much better place indeed.
   [1] John Piper defines Christian joy as a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world. His book entitled The Dangerous Duty of Delight, discusses this concept of joy and delight in the Lord as a command.
   [2] Supplication: The action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.

by Michael Burner

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