It’s a little early for “Thanksgiving thanks” … but it is always in season to “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… and be thankful…with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:15-16*)
Paul shares with the Ephesians, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs and making melody with your heart to the Lord;always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ….” (Eph. 5:15-20, italics added)
What would the giving of “thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” actually feel and sound like? I would think it would feel and sound like joy and victory. That it would impart vision, focus, strength….but that is not necessarily what many people have received as the Scriptural interpretation.
Let me ask this question, grammar gurus: is the phrase “all things” attached to the phrase “always giving thanks for all things”….or does it complete the phrase, “all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”?
Whoa. Did you hear a little ka-ching?
The interpretation of that phrase makes a difference. A big difference.
And the difference makes me ask this: is it the heartcry of the Spirit for us to be “always giving thanks for all things”….or is it the heart cry of the Spirit to have us giving thanks “for all-things-in-(as in ‘governed by’ or ‘encompassed within’) the-name-of-our-Lord-Jesus-
Over the years I have heard sermons interpret the phrase “giving thanks for all things” as requiring me to express prayerful thanks for adversity, persecution, poverty, misfortune, even evil deeds of perversion or mayhem. All had been lumped together as inherent components of “God’s plan” which was linked with, and explained through, Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The connection between those Scriptures was often “sealed” by referring to an earlier segment of teaching in which Paul shared, “…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope…” (Rom. 5:3,4)
The conclusion, as presented, was that we, as followers of Christ, were to give thanks to God for many various activities that for all appearance and result were anti-Christ, anti-God and anti-Kingdom… and to expect that in doing so, proven character and hope would be formed and birthed within us for our faithful trust in His Wisdom, as God “worked things out.”
Faithful trust in His Wisdom is certainly no bad thing….but is that really where the colloquial “rubber meets the road” in terms of directing our thankfulness?
In my opinion, it is not. To those who have had this background, I encourage you – this very upcoming time of thanks-giving – to lift your sword of His Truth and cry out, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8, italics added) Not to embrace them and call them the “purpose of God.”
To embrace the devastation of the enemy’s work in peoples’ lives or in the culture around us and perceive that our role is to be passively accepting and then actually give thanks for it is, in my opinion, a prevalent deception from the enemy…and has waylaid many a capable spiritual warrior, many a capable prayer partner, many a deliverance from God that was never initiated.
The Message translation of the same Scriptures in Ephesians states, “So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times…drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of Him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs. Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:18-20, Msg.)
“Praise over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father.” Why would that be?
Paul began his teaching to the Ephesians by stating, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Eph. 1:3-6)
Our focus is not to give thanks for all things….it is an overwhelmingly thankful and joyful heart that recognizes and bursts forth in praise to the fact that our inheritance is “all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Selah.
*All Scripture NASB unless noted