July 23, 2015
READ: Philippians 4:2-9
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace (vv.6-7).
As the father of four children, I tell them four words nearly every day: “You should be thankful!” I say it to them during dinner when they turn up their noses at vegetables. I say it to them when they want to get a toy that “all” their friends have. For my kids, and I suspect for many of us, giving thanks to God is an individual discipline—the proper response to what He’s done.
In Philippians 4, however, Paul reveals that the effects of thanksgiving aren’t merely personal, but interpersonal. The context of Paul’s teaching included two sisters in Christ who were embroiled in a bitter disagreement (v.2)—something all of us can relate to. The apostle didn’t tell them to rejoice and give thanks simply for personal reasons, but because doing so also allowed them to make peace with one another. When disagreements arise, our instinct is to think badly of the person we’re in conflict with, something that makes us more hard-hearted towards them. Instead, if we choose to give thanks for all of God’s blessings, we gain a healthy perspective and some emotional space—both vital for forgiveness to be extended.
This teaching meshes well with the parable of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:21-35). The debtor—though forgiven a great deal—wouldn’t forgive the small debt of another. If he had only taken a moment to give thanks for the greater debt he had been forgiven, it’s likely he would have been more forgiving towards others.
365-day-plan: Luke 9:28-45
Read Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:13 for additional reasons why we should always give thanks and forgive one another.
In what ways have you been blessed or forgiven by God? In light of these gifts, is there someone who you should try to make peace with today?