Habits of Highly Thankful People

Read: Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (v. 4 NIV)

It’s Thanksgiving this month in the United States. Today’s verse gives us a good way to start the holiday season—by cultivating thankfulness before we celebrate. For some, the holidays are a favorite time of year. But for others who are experiencing financial or health problems, or are grieving, or find ourselves exhausted by work or family situations, the holidays, and especially giving thanks, is difficult. We know we are supposed to be grateful. But when times are hard, how can we be?

We often think that giving thanks is something we do in response to our circumstances. Yet Paul makes clear that Christians are thankful not only because of their circumstances but even despite them. Paul writes from Rome, where he awaits trial, to the church in Philippi—a church experiencing persecution and financial hardship. But he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

How does Paul expect us to be thankful? Through sheer will—forcing ourselves to be grateful when we aren’t? Or by self-delusion, telling ourselves that things aren’t really that bad, even when they are? No; as Paul demonstrates throughout his letter, the source of our thankfulness is the hope of the gospel.

Studying Philippians can help us cultivate the habits of thankful people. As we do that, let’s work toward the powerful personal change that comes from a life transformed by God’s love.

As you pray, thank God for the hope he offers. Ask him to help you find true joy in him.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.

This entry is part 1 of 15 in the series Habits of a Thankful Heart