“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 ESV
It’s in your favor to become thankful. It’s to your advantage to cultivate a life of gratitude. And yet, it seems so hard to embrace this as something helpful. Sure it makes sense to respond to something good that happens in our life with praise. It’s easy to say a hearty “Thank you” when someone blesses us with something unexpected. But the key to life, the good life, is learning to be thankful when there’s no obvious reason to be. In other words, learning to cultivate praise and thankfulness that isn’t prompted in that moment by something good that happens to you.
Paul, writing from prison, says “Rejoice in the Lord always.” And then, repeated his command (for us in the back 😊), “Again, I will say, rejoice.” Why would this man of God, bound perhaps to a Roman soldier, stuck in a 1st century jail cell charge his readers, ‘rejoice always’? Was he out of touch with reality? Was he one of those super-spiritual religious nuts that was ‘too heavenly minded to be any earthly good’? Or did Paul understand a secret?
I suggest that Paul knew the advantage of being thankful, being positive all the time. He understands what happens when we choose not to allow our circumstances, our surroundings, and what we can see to rule our life.
The advantage to choosing gratitude over a bad attitude is literally the Prince of Peace showing up IN YOUR LIFE to establish His authority IN YOUR LIFE. Paul knew that the Roman government and the centurions who had him in chains were all subject to the authority of Christ. They could do nothing without God’s permission. Therefore, what they did shouldn’t determine what he did. As a result, he found ways to rejoice. He looked for opportunities to express His gratitude, and he chose to be a praiser rather than allow the ‘good day enemies’ to rule his day.
The question then is what is the tangible, practical advantage of the Prince of Peace showing up in our lives?
Over the next couple of days, we are going to look at four things Jesus does for those who choose a life of gratitude. Four actions that you receive when you choose to praise over fear, gratitude over complaint, and faith over worry. It’s a covenant that he has with you.
So, with Paul, I say - REJOICE ALWAYS AND AGAIN I SAY REJOICE! Why? You can’t afford not to.
Today’s challenge: I want you to write down your planned response when things don’t go your way. Let me help you with some prompts:
When the person cuts me off on the interstate, I will…..
When my spouse does that thing that irritates me, I will….
When I receive a bill that I am not unexpecting and I don't know how I can pay it, I will….
When I feel overwhelmed with fear and hopelessness, I will….
When I get overlooked for that promotion again, I will…
Go ahead, right your own and create responses of praise and gratitude as your planned response. I CHALLENGE YOU!