1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,

3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

When you watch the end of a sporting event or an awards ceremony, it is interesting to see who the winners thank - they remember their families, teammates, coaches, and mentors.  And fairly often, you will find someone who gives thanks to God, specifying Jesus Christ.  There is a fad called "Tebowing", named after Tim Tebow.  "'Tebowing,'  the act of dropping to one knee, forehead to fist to a position of prayer, has become part of pop culture."  It is an expression of thanksgiving to God by this outspoken Christian athlete.  Some people will mock it, but others are challenged and imitate it.  Yes, we can thank others for their specific  acts.  However, as Christians, all thanksgiving must ultimately go to God.   

 

In this passage, Paul, as he is overflowing with thanksgiving, could have thanked many people.  He could have thanked the Thessalonian church or particular individuals.  Yet, He specifically thanks God; God is the object of thanksgiving.  In making God our ultimate object of thanksgiving, we worship God.  God is the source of all life.

 

In Romans 11:36, Paul confesses: "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

 

When we realize our entire life depends on God, we cannot help but give thanks to God.  Giving thanks to God also enables us to remind ourselves that everything comes from God.  As people of God, we remember that we owe our salvation to God, who by his grace saved us through Jesus Christ.  And not just any God but the triune God as revealed by Scripture, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

 

What is more, thanksgiving is given constantly.   The Thessalonians were not in good circumstances, which gives Paul all the more reason to give thanks.  That is the power of being in relationship with God; we can overcome our circumstances.  Paul prays prayers of thanksgiving.  An expression of that constant thanksgiving to God is prayer.  What is more, the more we pray, the more we are able to give thanks to God.  The reverse can be true; the less we pray, the less thankful we become.  For many of us, thanksgiving may be contingent on our circumstances.  However, true faith gives thanks in all circumstances, as Paul will exhort the Thessalonians to do later. When we pray, we are reminded of God's grace, which does not change in spite of changing circumstances.

 

Acts of faith are specifically recognized.  More accurately, they are works of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness  of hope in Christ.  More than the actions, notice the motivation behind the work.  In life, we have many different motivations to labor.  We labor for money.  We can be motivated by status.  We may want to please others.  However, as Christians, we live for the glory of God. 

 

Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

 

What is more, in life, we may have many reasons not to remain steadfast in the Lord.  When we don't achieve the status or financial goals, we can be disappointed.  When people criticize us, we can lose heart.  However, as we labor in the Lord, we can remain steadfast because God's steadfast love endures forever.  Through action, we express thanksgiving .  One particular action that we will take is the Lord's Supper, referred to in some denominations as the "Eucharist," from this Greek word "eucharisteo", which means, "to give thanks."  We express thanksgiving to God with action through holy living.  And, motivated by faith, hope, and love, we live holy lives in expectation of our Savior Christ's return.

 

In this thanksgiving season, as we give thanks always, may we also be stirred up to keep living for the glory of God.