It is God's will for us to be thankful because He knows that it is good for us to have an attitude of thankfulness towards Him. When we have a thankful attitude and an attitude of appreciation for Him and what He does for us, it does not leave much room for ingratitude in our lives.
In reading Psalm 8:3-6, we can see ourselves in perspective to God's creation:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man, that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet. . . .
God has given us—humanity—dominion over the things that He has created. And beyond that, out of all humanity, we have been given a tremendous responsibility to develop righteous character and have the potential of living eternally in His Kingdom. This thought alone should help us to be thankful each day.
It is God's will that we be thankful. Jesus Christ is the mediator and revealer of God's will, and even He is subject to it (Luke 22:42). It is the will of God that we be thankful in every condition, in adversity as well as prosperity (James 1:2-3, 12).
Martin G. Collins
Paul addresses I Thessalonians 5:16-18 directly to us, and its commands can greatly affect our attitudes during trials so that we make the best use of them without getting down on life: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” These are quite challenging! But since God commands them of us, they are things that He will enable us to accomplish. Therefore, they are not impossible tasks.
These are attitudes and actions that we can control. Other scriptures reveal that God permits us to be saddened or disappointed about what is happening. For example, the gospels say that Jesus sorrowed about various things. Here, Paul's concern is that, in our relationship with God—as the mention of prayer establishes—we will not remain depressed for an extended time because of our contact with God. We should be able to come out of our funks. If we do not, it is because we are too focused on ourselves.
These commands guard against allowing ourselves to sink from an upbeat, positive, and hopeful attitude of a child of God to a discouraged and self-centered one. How? By doing spiritual work directly in relation to God, holding onto God in the midst of all circumstances in life. Peter writes that if God is our hope, He will lift us up (I Peter 5:6-7).
I Timothy 6:6-8 reminds us of an important reality: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” This passage's central issue concerns wealth. Great discontentment and discouragement are generated through coveting wealth. However, the attitude of a reasoned, faith-based contentment, regardless of economic circumstances, causes great spiritual gain.
Within a relationship with God, this faith-based attitude greatly assists in enabling a Christian to live an “over the sun” life. In a converted person's mind, because he is living such a life, God is the Central Figure, and he accepts whatever life throws his way. A Christian with that focus works his way through his trials, overcoming the pulls toward self-centeredness because he knows God is with him.
Without God being the beacon that provides guidance and encouragement, a person can much more easily drift into an easily discouraged, discontented, covetous, “life is down on me,” self-centered existence. When that happens, spiritual progress grinds to a halt.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Three): Time
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18