Nothing is sweeter than a grateful heart! I cannot express the love I feel when my precious grandkids say, “Thank you, Mimi” even if all I have done is pay for their dinner. I wonder if it’s just as sweet to God when He hears His children say, “Thank you, Jesus.”
No one understood the importance of having a grateful heart more than the apostle Paul. Before Paul met Christ, he was a murderer trying to find joy in his status as a Pharisee, his drive to protect the Jewish traditions, and his knowledge of the law. But after he met Christ, he was able to truly rejoice and be thankful.
Not only did Paul rejoice in the Lord, but he encouraged all the churches he established to do the same. In Philippians 4:4-6, Paul encourages those in Philippi to rejoice, not to be anxious, and to pray with hearts of thanksgiving. Since Paul was such a godly man, it doesn’t seem unusual that he wrote these encouraging words—until we realize that Paul wrote this letter from prison.
What was Paul’s secret to joy when he faced poverty, regular beatings, imprisonment, and shipwrecks? I believe part of his secret was that he never forgot the day Jesus called his name. Perhaps remembering the day Christ rescued us is foundational in cultivating a heart that explodes with joy.
Paul also told the Philippians not to be anxious. Prison was obviously not the reason he found joy and freedom from anxiousness. Paul reminds us we can be thankful, not because everything in life is perfect—but just because our perfect and powerful God is near!
When Paul was in prison, Christ was with him. When Paul faced the possibility of being beaten, Christ was with him. When he was shipwrecked, Christ was with him. Nothing could separate him from his Savior, not even death (Philippians 1:21). This was why Paul could rejoice and be thankful.
I propose a challenge: Rather than focusing on your circumstances, I challenge you to take time to be thankful for your God who is near and is sitting on His throne. Joyously celebrate that you are in Christ, and He is in you. With Christ as your focus, nothing will be able to rob your joy. My prayer is that you will have a heart overflowing with gratitude, knowing that Jesus is all you need—and hopefully—that He is all you want!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:4-6 (NIV)
Further Reading: Philippians 1; Psalm 13:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18