I know… It’s a little after the fact to do a post on giving thanks when Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago. But just like a student often forgets everything they learn after the exam, we also tend to say, “I gave thanks already this year. What’s next?”
So here is my post-thanksgiving plea to be thankful all year. And I get my inspiration for it from this passage about sex:
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous that is, an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:3-5).
There are a lot of “don’ts” in this passage. I count six. But they are hardly the kind that come from a prudish kill joy. They come from the same Paul that commanded husbands and wives to make sure they have sex very frequently.
They are the kind of “don’ts” that are meant to protect joy. But what stands out to me even more than the amount of “don’ts” is that there is only one “do” and it is not what I would have expected.
There is only one thing in this section that Paul commands in order to combat the six things he says not to do. We all know how powerful sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness are in our lives. We know how pervasive filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking are. And there is only one thing that he commands here to combat these things?
That one thing must be extremely powerful.
That one thing is thanksgiving.
What do you do when you are tempted to indulge in sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness? You give thanks to God.
I have found during the last few months of applying this passage in my own life that it is actually quite difficult to give in to temptation when I am truly thankful to God.
When I stop thinking “I’ll be happy if…” and start thinking “What has God already done for my joy?” That leads me down a path toward freedom. I end up not only resisting the actions of lust but also the desire itself within my heart.
However, I have also found that many times when I try to be thankful that my mind draws a complete blank. Either that, or the things I think of don’t sound better than what I am tempted to indulge in.
So what do we do when we can’t think of anything powerful to be thankful for?
Come back tomorrow to find out.
But before I leave you I want to point out one more thing. It’s actually what the title was referring to. Without thankfulness you are destined to covet worldly things. And the outcome of that is being denied entrance into the kingdom of God. You will be shut out from eternal life found in the realm of the Source of all Joy. Thankfulness doesn’t only help you resist temptation. It will save your life.
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