When our children were very young, we established in our home the practice of family worship. I can still remember that many of the songs that we would sing were songs that they learned while in Cradle Roll. Now that our girls are all young adults and are beginning to establish their own lives, we don’t have the opportunity to come together for worship as often as we did when they were little. But there is one thing we hold onto as a family that binds us together wherever our paths take us and that is our family promise of Philippians 4:6, 7. I’m not quite sure how or why this came to be, but I do know that we all agreed that this would be the one that we would claim as our own.
In his letter to the believers at Philippi, the apostle Paul shares his appreciation for the spirit in which they have chosen to serve the Lord. Of all the churches that he established, the church at Philippi was the one that brought him the most joy and satisfaction. This is probably also due to the fact that it caused him the least amount of trouble. So instead of this letter taking on the form of rebuke or warning, as did so many of his letters to the other churches, this epistle to the Philippians is full of appreciation and encouragement.
In Philippians 4:6, 7 Paul says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I do not believe that when Paul says that we are to bring our petitions to God and that they should be accompanied with thanksgiving that he means that we are to say “thank you” in advance for what He is about to do. But rather, I believe that he is saying the basic posture of the life of the believer is to be one of a “spirit of thanksgiving.” In essence, we are being encouraged to live our lives in a constant state of gratitude. Not for what God will do in answer to our prayers, but for what God has already done in response to our sin dilemma in the person of Jesus Christ.
So as we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us be reminded that for the Christian, thanksgiving is not something we do once a year, but it’s what we are to be about each day of every year.
Charles A. Tapp
Originally Published in Eweekend 11/23/2011