As a Bible college graduate, I learned early in life that sometimes the best way to gain deeper understanding of Scripture was to review it in the original language. It’s also a nifty way to try and avoid obedience. “What does it say in the Greek?” then was a commonly heard phrase in my dorms, as we young men tried to establish God in our own immature image rather than allow the Holy Spirit to mold us. This phrase comes back to me as I consider Thanksgiving. As is often the case, it seems that God expects more of us than American culture would lead us to believe. We are not expected to be thankful for one day, while engorging ourselves on turkey, pumpkin pie and sundry wondrous foods. See what I mean here in I Thessalonians 5:16 – 18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Surely you understand why it would be wonderful to hid behind a poor translation with these verses. Always doesn’t really mean always, does it? I wonder if continually is in the imperative voice, because that would make it mean something different that always? All circumstances sounds a bit difficult – could it be this actually is mistranslated, and means something more like most circumstances?
Alas, I know enough Greek to be dangerous, and here’s what I know: always means always; continually means continually; and all circumstances means all circumstances. So then, the question becomes a different one – how in the world are we supposed to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances, and pray continually? In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to focus on rejoicing and giving thanks. I have a few ideas that I am going to list below that are sure to stir up some rejoining and thanksgiving in your heart, but I’d really like to hear your thoughts here too. Please comment on this post, so we can encourage each other to live lives that are honorable to God.
- Remember back-handed grace
- Read Ann Voskamp’s blog religiously
- Recognize how rich we all are as Americans, even if you don’t feel that way
- Look very deeply at your children and see them as the gift from God that they are
- Step outside, look up, and consider how creative our God is, that He came up with the very idea of clouds, and sky
- Two words: Tim Hawkins
- Look at old family photos, especially when you or your kids were young
Okay, now it’s your turn – what are the best ways for you to find thanksgiving and rejoicing in your life?