Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Still Another Mistaken Idea: Give Thanks For All Things?
In Ephesians, Paul makes a statement that unfortunately has been misunderstood and misapplied.
giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:20 NKJV
At face value, this passage seems to be instructing us to thank God for any and all things on this planet. Is this what God is saying? Is this what the Holy Spirit through Paul is encouraging us to do?
If this is the correct understanding of this verse, how would we apply this in our daily lives as Christians? What this would look like is when the two airplanes slammed into the Twin Towers in NYC, killing over 2,000 people we shouldn't have had times of mourning in our churches. We should have thrown our hands up and gave thanks to God for this.
If we are to give thanks for all things, then we as Christians shouldn't be protesting abortion clinics. We should give thanks that babies in their wombs are killed daily. We should give thanks for all the homelessness we see around the globe. We should give thanks for famine and poverty the whole world round. We should be giving thanks for all those bound to drug addiction. We should be thanking God for the many mired in alcoholism. We should be thanking God for young men shooting and killing each other in inner cities. Young girls forced into the illegal sex trade industry? Yep, you have to give thanks for this too.
This sounds crazy but sadly some traditional Christians with their warped view of sovereignty don't realize this is the logical conclusion to their philosophy. I have actually seen written teachings from days gone by where the minister is teaching people we should be thanking God for making us sick. What does that look like in prayer?
"Oh God, I just want to thank you for giving me cancer."
Come on, that is plain goofy. Again religious Christians with their twisted category of God's character they have created, "omni-control" leads to outlandish ideas such as these. That God's sovereignty means God is in total absolute control of all circumstance and events. Got a flat tire? God is in control.
What is Paul actually saying here? Let's look at another passage where he instructs us to be thankful.
in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
This is the key, let Scripture interpret Scripture. Paul clarifies his views about giving thanks here. It is in everything we give thanks not for everything. Yes, but that's not how it is written in Ephesians. Let's look at it again.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:20 KJV
The King James version gives us a better insight into what Paul is saying. We are to give thanks for all things unto God. In other words, Paul is saying render to God what is God's. Give thanks for what God has done, is doing, and will do in His plan of redemption.
I am not to thank God that my biological grandfather was an alcoholic who died way before his time. I am to offer thanks only for what God has done. God didn't kill my grandfather. God didn't make him an alcoholic. He chose this path in spite of God calling him to embrace life and receive the free gift of Grace. I give thanks to God for what He does, I am not going to give thanks for the works of the enemy, or the consequences of a fallen, fractured creation.
We give thanks in our circumstances because we know God is with us. He has not left us or forsaken us. We give thanks in spite of our situation because we know what God has promised and what He has accomplished in the Finished Work.
These words give credence to the concept that God afflicts, He brings disease, that He causes death. The plain truth is what people are truly experiencing is the giving of thanks in the middle of their circumstances. They are turning to God in tough times and He is meeting them right where they are. It isn't the affliction, the disease, or the tragedy bringing strength. It is people believing and acting upon God's Word in the midst of their trial and adversity.
We see disaster, disease, and destruction the whole World round and it hasn't produced strong people. That's because the events weren't designed for people's good but for their harm. A fallen World and an enemy roaming and seeking whom he may devour aren't looking for your betterment but your destruction.
In summation, give thanks for all things? No, we only give thanks for the things God has done. We give thanks in our circumstances. In other words, in the midst of sickness, we thank God He is our healer. In the midst of turmoil, we thank God He is our peace. God is a good Father and we must rightly divide the Scriptures when it comes to obscure passages that seem to state otherwise. The Word of God rightly divided brings peace and comfort and when heard brings faith to our hearts.