It would seem that living in the 21st century thankfulness has become less and less common. A simple thank you for holding the door has now just become merely the product of southern hospitality. Being thankful requires some effort and attention to detail but being thankful is not to be neglected.
Paul taught us the example of being thankful often in his epistles. Paul often showed the importance of being thankful for people not necessarily things. While there is nothing wrong with being thankful for material things, we should also be thankful for good Christian influences in our lives and the lives of others.
In almost every letter Paul wrote, he thanked God for the Christians there and the example they were to others. Paul was thankful for other Christians and their faith. Paul often gave thanks somewhere in his epistles for the Christians themselves and the labor for the Lord they expressed. Some examples include but are not limited to 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, Philippians 1:3-11 and Colossians 1:3-8. Some of these were Christians he had never even met, but he had heard of their example and was thankful for them and the light that they were shining. When was the last time you thanked God for a fellow Christian? Maybe even Christians you have never personally met but some who have had an impact on you either way.
I want to look specifically at Philippians 1:3-11.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God”
Notice the language used by Paul here. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Paul so fondly thinks of the Christians at Philippi that in fact every time he thinks of them, he thanks God for them. What an expression of thankfulness to have! What is it that Paul is thankful for? He says in the next verse that it is their fellowship in the Gospel. No matter where we are located geographically as Christians we can be thankful for the fellowship we share with other Christians worldwide.
How often are we thankful for other Christians? Paul seemed to constantly remind Christians young and old how thankful he was for them, and the light that they shined. It's one thing to be thankful for things, especially this time of year. Things such as food on the table a place to sleep etc. But my encouragement to you this year is to tell another Christian how thankful you are for them and their example and the hard work they put in day in and day out. Barnabas is often classified as the encourager in the Bible. Maybe Barnabas learned it from Paul or maybe even the other way around, but either way, it costs nothing to be an encourager and to thank someone for just being them. They make mistakes and have hardships but at the end of the day they are faithful Christians and that’s something to be thankful for. Paul most certainly was and so should we. Consider showing your thankfulness for other Christians and the impact they have made for the cause of Christ. Maybe that’s writing a letter, or sending a text, or making a phone call. It does not cost anything but thoughtful effort to be thankful.