God’s Will for You
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What is the will of God for you? Most believers have asked this question. The apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonian believers to be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, for this was the will of God in Christ Jesus for them. There are other things that God could have us do, but these are part of his will for us. We frequently overlook requests like these, seeking some complex request that God may have for us.
Be joyful always. It is natural to rejoice when things go well. But it is not this natural joy, dependent upon circumstances, that is characteristic of the Christian. It is the joy that comes from being in Christ Jesus. There is a serious purpose to life. Sometimes it will lead to stern and serious action, but by and large, the Christian’s resources are so great that earthly things cannot disturb his composure, and he goes his way with a song in his heart.
The Christian rejoices despite hardship and sometimes almost because of it, since he knows that it may have a positive and beneficial result. The source of joy can lie in the recognition of what God has already done through Jesus Christ. If our Christian experience does not lead to joy, we do well to ask whether it is genuine.
Pray continually. “It is not in the moving of the lips, but in the elevation of the heart to God that the essence of prayer consists,” says J. B. Lightfoot. It is this which enables us to carry into practice the injunction to pray continually. It is not possible for us to spend all of our time with the words of prayer on our lips, but it is possible for us to live our days in the spirit of prayer, realizing our dependence on God for all that we have and all that we are. We can recognize his presence with us wherever we are, and yield ourselves continually to him for the doing of his will.
Christians may find that if they do not observe set occasions of prayer, they may forget to pray. What Paul says does not imply that there are no set times for prayer, but rather that the Christian should live in such communion with God that prayer is always easy and natural.
Give thanks in all circumstances. Here is true optimism. This is a test of spiritual ingenuity, since some circumstances do not inspire thanksgiving. This is not simply a “Pollyanna” attitude—not just a matter of feeling that things could be worse. The believer can see that even adversities may have a beneficial purpose and can also recognize a source of inward joy in his fellowship with Christ that cannot be disturbed by the most adverse circumstances. One song writer wrote:
Give thanks with a grateful heart;
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ, his Son.
And now let the weak say I am strong,
Let the poor say I am rich,
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
Give thanks! Give thanks! Give thanks!
Paul tells the Corinthians that the communion cup is the cup of thanksgiving. What a delight believers have when we share in what Christ has done for us, as we remember his death with thanksgiving. May we be especially thankful for what Christ has done for us, thus fulfilling the will of God. May we rejoice, pray and give thanks continually.
Pastor Jake StirnemannFebruary 1, 2023