First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. (Romans 1:8-9)
I Thank My God
Paul was a man full of thanksgiving. He enjoyed telling his brethren how much they meant to him and how thankful he was for their love, devotion, spirit, remembrance, and care for him and the work of the Lord. On numerous occasions, the apostle expressed his thanksgiving to God for individuals and congregations. It was a part of the language of Paul of Tarsus that he let others know how thankful he was of them. His thanksgiving was directed to God. He knew the joy of Christian fellowship was a blessing of being in Christ. Writing to the brethren in Rome, he calls them the beloved of God, called to be saints. His thanksgiving is given to God for the association of that beloved unity found only in the grace and peace of God the Father.
The church in Corinth suffered near-catastrophic problems of spiritual abandonment with petty divisions, carnality, immorality, legal disputes, questions of marriage, self-denial, and abuses in the worship services over spiritual gifts. Paul had to address some hard issues with challenging solutions that would have tested the metal of any congregation. He begins his letter with a message of thanksgiving. How do you find common ground to address the problems of Corinth? Paul tells them how thankful he is for their faith and belief in the coming of Jesus Christ.
In Paul’s letter to Philippi, he thanks God upon every remembrance of the brethren. In every prayer to the Father, the thankful apostle tells God how much the saints in Philippi mean to him and their fellowship in the gospel. The church in Thessalonica was on the prayer list of thanksgiving for Paul. He writes to them and tells them how thankful to God he is for their devotion to receive the word of God as truth and enduring suffering for the cause of Christ. Their faith grew exceedingly and the love of each one toward the others was well-known and Paul told them, “Thank you.” It was a hard letter to write to his friend Philemon, but Paul had some things that needed to be said about a slave named Onesimus. The apostle tells Philemon how thankful he was to God for his beloved friend and fellow laborer and that he often mentioned him in his prayers. Thanksgiving and prayer are bonded together with a heart of love.
A thankful heart is a joyful heart that is content with the blessings of the Father. Paul left a pattern of thanksgiving directed toward his Father as he prays for his fellow saints and brethren in Christ. Thanksgiving begins with an attitude of heart directed toward God. Paul would often say that he was thankful to God for others. He let God know of those he was thankful for. The register of prayer in the heavenly library was full of ledgers with Paul’s name on them. He constantly sent prayers to the Father for the church and the saints who worked tirelessly for the cause of Christ. “I thank my God” was a common theme of Paul’s writings because that was the common theme of his heart.
The joy of thanksgiving expresses gratitude through prayer. Paul told the Roman saints his prayers were without ceasing as he remembered them daily. The mind of Paul was filled with the love of his brethren. Thankful hearts are praying hearts and praying hearts thank God for all the saints who quietly work in their communities to let others see Christ. There is much to be downtrodden and depressed in a dark world, but prayers of thanksgiving are beacons of light reaching up to the throne of God. Be thankful. Pray. Thank God for the blessings of faithful brethren, courageous saints, and hard-working congregations that shine as lights in a perverted world. Thank you God.