Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thankful for You: Finding ways to appreciate each other

The Apostle Paul began almost every one of his New Testament letters with a word of thanksgiving for his fellow believers.

His thankfulness wasn’t a onetime feeling. He thanked God for them a lot.

This must have been a big deal to Paul; otherwise, he wouldn’t have dedicated so much time to it.

This must be a big deal to God; otherwise, He wouldn’t have led Paul to include it in his letters nine times.

The verses themselves give us some clues as to why it was important to Paul, is important to God, and should be important to us.

Because we serve God

“God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times” (Romans 1:9). Paul thanked God for and prayed for his fellow believers because it’s part of serving God. God wants us to be thankful for each other.

We may not always feel thankful for the people in our lives. Yet, because we serve God and because He desires it to be so, we can choose to be thankful despite our feelings.

Because they have faith

“I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8). I think it’s significant that the world knew the faith of the Romans. They were the leaders of the world at that time; they lived in plenty and could have become self-sufficient and complacent. Nevertheless, their faith was strong enough that the world knew about it.

We may have our lives so put together that we don’t really recognize the contribution of the people we know. But when all else is stripped away and all we’re left with is our faith in Mighty God, the people in our lives become an incredible blessing for which we can thank God.

Because they have received God’s grace

“I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4). The Corinthian believers weren’t perfect; they had their problems. Church divisions, immorality, lawsuits among believers, misunderstanding of the freedom we have in Christ, and inappropriate worship were all part of their church environment. But they, like us, were recipients of God’s grace. And that was changing everything.

Our loved ones may not be perfect either. In fact, I’m guessing they aren’t perfect. But we can still be thankful for them because God’s grace is available for all of us.

Because they have partnered in the Gospel

“I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:4-5). Paul was thankful for the help provided by his fellow believers. God didn’t call even the greatest missionary who ever lived to save the world on his own. He knew everyone has a part to play in the Kingdom of God.

Our fellow believers may do things differently than us. We may disagree on some insignificant issues. We can still be thankful for them and the work they do in reaching the world for Christ. God never meant for us to reach the world all on our own.

Because of their faith and love

Paul repeated this reason in Ephesians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. I think Paul was thankful for the faith and love of his fellow believers because they were evidence of the power of God’s Word. They were the result of a transformed life.

Like us, our fellow believers also have faith in Christ and love for the world. I know they do because it comes from the same place ours did – the hope within us and the word of truth (Colossians 1).
  • Their faith and love leads them to labor, work, and endure for the hope of Christ just like it does us (1 Thessalonians 1).
  • Their faith and love is growing and increasing. Maybe they’re not all they could be, but then again, neither are we (2 Thessalonians 1).
  • Their faith and love leads them to share Christ, and thereby bring joy and encouragement to the world (Philemon 1).
So, this Thanksgiving season, I'm thankful for all the usual stuff - family, home, friends - but I'm thankful for one more significant thing. I'm thankful for you - each and every one of you who are serving the King of Kings. I'm thankful because we serve God together, united by our faith, love, need for grace, and a desire to share the Gospel message.

Be sure to share this with those in your life for whom you are thankful. Together you serve the King of Kings!


  1. Awesome reminder, Kathi! Good perspective for all of us to have.
    Have a very blessed Thanksgiving.

    1. Thank you, Mary. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!