Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thankful for people

Have you ever noticed how frequently Paul opens his letters with a word of thanksgiving? We can learn a lot about thanksgiving from the way Paul opens many of his epistles.

  • Romans 1:8: Paul thanks God through Jesus for the Romans because of their faith.
  • I Corinthians 1:4: Paul thanks God "always" for the Corinthians because of the grace of God that was given to them.
  • Ephesians 1:16: Paul does not cease to give thanks for them because he has heard of their faith.
  • Philippians 1:3: Paul is thankful for them for their "partnership" in the gospel.
  • Colossians 1:3: Paul uses "we," and he is thankful for hearing about their faith and love for the saints.
  • II Timothy 1:3: Paul is thankful as he is reminded of their sincere faith.
  • I Thessalonians 1:2: Paul remembers their work of faith and labour of love in Christ.
  • II Thessalonians 1:3: Paul says he "ought" to give thanks because of the growing faith of the church at Thessalonica.
  • Philemon 1:4: He is thankful for hearing about the love and faith Philemon had toward Christ.

Paul was thankful for people. And specifically, people who were coming to faith, growing in their faith, and proclaiming their faith.

Are you thankful for people? Are you thankful for the growth of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you thankful when you see others loving and serving Christ, building up the body? Do you notice whether or not someone is growing in the things of God?

To be able to tell if others are growing means getting to know them. In our individualistic world, it's often not easy or natural to get to know someone that well; we often like our distance. But the Body of Christ is not like a social club or a service club. We are one in the body. We have unity. We ought to rejoice when we see someone growing in his faith. When the body grows, we benefit, too. And everyone can get to know at least one person well enough to discern when he or she is growing in the things of God.

Flowing from gratitude is prayer. Every one of those verse references, with the exception of Romans 1:8 and 1 Corinthians. 1:4 mentions thanksgiving in connection with prayer. Paul was led to pray for them as he was thankful. That is one of the benefits of fostering gratitude: it enriches our prayer life. Have you ever sat down to pray and done nothing but say prayers of thanksgiving? I have done that. Maybe it feels like list-making, but consciously having to look at my life to ascertain what I'm grateful for is a good exercise. It goes a long way to helping during those days when we are prone to complain or feel self-pity.

Are you thankful for the gospel today? Are you thankful for seeing growth in people? Are you thankful for the Body of Christ? Are you so thankful that it causes you to pray words of thanksgiving?

What are you thankful for today? Share in the comments; we'd love to be thankful right along with you.


  1. I'll kick off the comments…

    I'm in a small group of middle-aged women from my church. It's been good to get to know them outside of Sunday morning. I thank God for them, their wisdom, their prayers, and how they have encouraged me even just last night.

  2. This is wonderful. I love the act of only praying thanks for God is doing in those around you.

  3. Hot coffee and happy boys on a cold morning.

  4. Thank you Kim, I loved this.

    I'm also thankful for the people in my church family and for our pastor and Sunday School teacher . My church has been around for about 40 years and even though it’s small we have families spanning 4 generations. I’m thankful for a humble pastor who has stuck with the flock for more than 35 years. Our Sunday School teacher has been leading us through John Owen’s Mortification of Sin for about 8 months and the class discussions have been wonderful. I’m so thankful for the theological depth and the genuine love and humility of the people there.