“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
The Apostle Paul tells us our prayers and petitions are to be accompanied by thanksgiving. Elsewhere he says, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18)
God loves a grateful heart. In fact, gratitude is His will for you. This past summer, maybe you saw the interview with the female wrestler who won an Olympic gold medal: She gushed gratefulness to God and country and her coaches. Didn’t you just love her? You want her to succeed! Now compare her with those petulant, spoiled brat athletes who think the world revolves around them and the world owes them something. Which would you rather be? Which do you think God wants you to be?
Well, it is clear that God wants us to be grateful. Worry and gratitude can’t share the same heart. We have a hot tub, and we bought a little gadget that is like a sponge bobbing up and down around the spa, but it magically only sucks up dirt and grime. It is in the shape of a bug and is called a Scumbug. Gratefulness is the scumbug of the heart—as long as gratefulness is floating around in your heart, worry can’t take hold. Thankfulness sucks it up!
So, what are we thankful for? Some commentators think Paul meant that after the challenge, we return to thank the Lord. Remember the story of the 10 lepers Jesus healed? Only one returned to thank him and received a bonus blessing.
But I don’t think that’s what Paul meant. Certainly, we should say thank you. But Paul’s doing the same thing here he’s doing elsewhere in this section of Philippians 6. Everything about our response to worry is counter-intuitive: Are you in trouble? Are you worried? Rejoice instead of mourning. Keep your cool instead of freaking out. Pray instead of taking control. Give thanks instead of complaining.
There are so many things for which we can be thankful. For one, there are all those positive things in life that we’re called to dwell on (see Phil. 4:8). There are the promises God has made us. There are past mercies He has shown us. There’s the fact that we can actually approach the throne of grace in order to find the help we need (Heb. 4:16).
We have a lot for which to be grateful. Dwell on these things. Thank the Lord for these things.
Jim Mann, Ph.D., pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and online. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.