Thankful or FULL of Thanks?
Which are you…thankful or FULL of thanks? If I asked you today, “Are you thankful?” – I bet you would answer with a resounding, “Yes!”. To be thankful means to have a feeling of gratitude. We would all say that we are grateful for our blessings, wouldn’t we? We think about our loved ones, our job, our house and we think, “Why yes, I am thankful!” But should we be thankful or should we be FULL of thanks? Let’s talk about what it would look like if we were full – filled up - with thanks.
Being Full of Thanks!
The word “Full” means to be filled to capacity, holding as much as possible. It is having a large amount of something. It is being at the highest degree or largest extent. Full means that nothing is missing or left out. Full is a BIG WORD. Are we FULL of thanks? Or has the world convinced us that we are not enough, don’t have enough, those around us don’t do enough, that we deserve more? If we are honest - we must admit that we all struggle with this. What we are filled to capacity with is discontent, comparison, greediness, judgments and self-centeredness. Ugh! That is hard to admit, isn’t it? But let’s all just stop and take a moment and ask ourselves – “am I so FULL of thanks for all my blessings and for my Savior that I couldn’t cram one more morsel of thanksgiving in my heart?” The truth is…anytime we feel angry, annoyed, frustrated, discouraged, or unhappy – our “thanks tank” has just dropped to empty! How can we keep it set to FULL?
The Bible tells us in I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
God’s word is just as real today as the day it was written. It is our road map, our written instruction, our directions on how to navigate through this crazy life we are living. “Be joyful always” instructs us that regardless of our difficult or trying circumstances - we always have reason and cause to rejoice. Our joy – as a Christian – is not based on our circumstances, but on a growing awareness of God and on the certainty that our future holds eternity with Christ. One thing I am learning in my walk with Christ is that I am truly a child of God, meaning an heir to the throne, to His attributes, to His unconditional love. We sometimes fall into the belief that we are merely a servant. Meaning if we do good works – He will pay us with His blessings. But, when we understand that we are a child of the King – we understand that we have inherited Heaven as our home; we are loved unconditionally and don’t have to strive to earn God’s love. We no longer need to worry that we are not good enough – but accept that we are God’s beloved and even if we are not as gifted or mature in the Spirit as our siblings in Christ – we are loved and accepted just the same. Then out of God’s love for us and our love and admiration in return – we will take on His attribute of unconditionally loving others, serving Him by serving others and living a life that is pleasing to our Father.
Next the scripture above says that we should “pray continually”. Some versions of the Bible say, “pray without ceasing”. Really? Does that mean we are supposed to pray constantly? No. (This is a great example of why we should study God’s word – not just read God’s word. Just like Algebra – if I want to gain understanding – I must study. Right?) This verse is directing us to be persistent and consistent in prayer. As a daughter or son, we should stay in contact with our Heavenly Father – seeking His wisdom and advice and finding comfort resting in His arms and dwelling with Him. The more time we spend with Him – the more we begin to look and act like Him.
The last verse mentioned above says “give thanks in all circumstances”. What does this mean to you? My study Bible explains that “Thankfulness should characterize the Christian life in every circumstance, not thanks for everything, but thanks IN everything.” Does that make sense? It goes on to say, “Nothing speaks more powerfully of a walk with God than continuous thankfulness.” You know, throughout my life I have gone through a variety of struggles and hard days. But there has never been a time when my earthly Daddy was not by my side, on my team, supporting and encouraging me, believing in me and cheering for me. I can’t think of a single time I felt judged or condemned by him. There has never been a time that I shouted, “Daddy!” that he didn’t come. I am FULL of thanks for him…so incredibly thankful. While I was never thankful for the situation, I was always thankful that my Daddy was helping me through it. The same is true of our Heavenly Father – even to the greatest extent. And regardless of your relationship with your earthly father – your Heavenly Father is ALWAYS there for you, always cheering for you, never judging or condemning you. There will never be a moment when you cry out, “Father God or Daddy!” that He won’t be right there – carrying you along whatever path you travel. Now THAT is a reason to be FULL of THANKS! Can I get an “AMEN”?
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holidays, I hope that you will stop and make sure your heart is FULL to overflowing with thankfulness. Let’s all make plans to go home for the holidays – by spending time with our Heavenly Father. As you prepare to eat all the yummy food – may you consume God’s word and digest that you, my friend, are an heir to the throne. And as your belly fills to capacity – may your heart overflow with thankfulness for all your Heavenly Father has done for you, is doing for you and offers to you. My wish is that when asked, “Thankful or FULL of thanks?”- we will all answer, “I am filled to the rim!”