Four of the ten shortest verses in the English Bible are found in 1 Thessalonians 5:
16. Rejoice evermore.
17. Pray without ceasing.
19. Quench not the Spirit.
20. Despise not prophesyings.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16–17, 19–20
And nestled right in the middle of them is another verse that would also be one of the shortest, if it ended after its first phrase:
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.—1 Thessalonians 5:18
Why did God not end this verse with the simple, direct command of its first half, matching the style of the surrounding verses?
In a previous blog, we looked at the beginning of this verse and saw the command for thanksgiving. But in the final twelve words of this verse, we discover a consolation for thankful people. When we give God gratitude, there are two gifts of assurance God gives us in return.
Living in God’s Will
This is one of the few places in the Bible where God specifically tells us His direct will for every one of His children. And we find His will is that we give thanks in everything.
Not only do we give thanks because it is God’s will that we do it, but we can give thanks because we know that everything in our lives falls into His will.
Think about it: As God’s children, we have the assurance that He makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), so we can freely give Him thanks in all things.
As God’s children, we have the assurance that He makes all things work together for good, so we can freely give Him thanks in all things.
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This assurance that all things fall into God’s will and accomplish His purposes is a comfort which only His grateful children can enjoy.
Living in Christ’s Likeness
But it gets better. Not only do we have the assurance that we are living in God’s will when we give thanks, but we also have the assurance that we are living like Jesus. The verse says, “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus….”
Jesus gave thanks.
He gave thanks for God’s blessings:
And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.—Matthew 15:36
And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.—John 6:11
And He gave thanks in the face of His deepest suffering:
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;—Matthew 26:27
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.—Luke 22:19
Not only is Jesus our example in thanksgiving, but He is the wellspring of thanksgiving. This is why Philippians 4:4 instructs, “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice.” We can’t always be glad in our circumstances, but we can always be glad in the Lord.
Not only is Jesus our example in thanksgiving, but He is our wellspring of thanksgiving.
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No wonder the psalmist said, “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord” (Psalm 104:34). When our minds and hearts are focused on Jesus, we can’t help but give thanks.
Dr. Paul Chappell is the senior pastor of the Lancaster Baptist Church and president of West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster, California. His biblical vision has led the church to become one of the most dynamic independent Baptist churches in the nation. He has been married to his wife for over thirty years and is the father of four married children all serving in Christian ministry.