Thursday, November 22, 2018

Give Thanks for the Blessings of Others

We are taught in many places in the Bible to give thanks to God for His many blessings.

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 106:1).

"And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:18-20).

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men" (1 Timothy 2:1).

Giving thanks to God should be a way of life for us in the Church of God.

But when we give thanks, do we thank God for our own personal blessings only? Or do we also thank God for the blessings others enjoy?

We are one body in Christ. Even though we are scattered geographically and organizationally, we are still one body because we have one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God. That is what makes us one body.

When we pray for our own needs, we should also pray for the needs of the whole body and all its members.

Likewise, when we give thanks to God, we should thank Him for the blessings He has given to others in the Church.

"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually" (1 Corinthians 12:26-27).

Perhaps you have a happy marriage in the Church. You should give God thanks for that marriage. But suppose you do not have a happy marriage. You can still give thanks, not for your own marriage, but for the happy marriages so many members in the Church are blessed with. You can, and should, thank God for those marriages and for the happiness they give to other members. Likewise, if you do not have a good job, you can thank God for the jobs He has provided to other members in the Church.

Some of us may feel lonely and frustrated with our problems. Maybe we are unemployed, without family, without friends, and in poor health. Some may feel they do not have much to be thankful for.

But if we know the truth of God and are trying to live by it, there is hope for us of eternal life. We can give thanks for that hope and for God's promises. We can give thanks even in the midst of trials. Even when God punishes us for our sins, we can give thanks to God that He cares about us enough to work with us to help us turn from our sins and become overcomers.

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19).

"And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.' If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Not all suffering is punishment. Some is for the purpose of testing our faith and love towards God.

But it is clear that the Christian life is not all physical blessings.

Remember the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus was not blessed in this life. But he made it into the kingdom of God. "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores....But Abraham said [to the rich man], 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented' " (Luke 16:20-25).

"Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).

We are not all blessed in this physical life. But whether or not we are physically blessed, we should rejoice and give thanks for those in the Church who are blessed because we are members of the same body and we should love each other as we love ourselves.

When we give thanks, let us remember to thank God not only for our own personal blessings but for the blessings He has given others.

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