What Would The Apostle Paul Be Thankful For In Your Life?
"The grounds of Paul's thanksgivings in his Epistles are worthy of study." - Robertson's Word Pictures
"Thus those who have many eyes upon them have need to walk circumspectly, for what they do, good or bad, will be spoken of."
- Matthew Henry
"It is not improper to commend Christians and to remind them of their influences; and especially to call to their mind the great power which they may have on other churches and people."
- Barnes' Notes
Throughout his Epistles, we find the Apostle Paul giving thanks to God for certain works of grace found in the believers' spiritual walk. As different as the churches were, so were the manifestations of God's handiwork. Let's look into several of these instances and then reflect on what would be the ground of thanksgiving in our lives.
In Romans 1:8, Paul commends the Roman church in this way - "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." Right in the capital of the Roman Empire, in a city remarkable for its wickedness and influence which extended everywhere, there the Roman Church was situated. This church proved indeed to be a "city set on a hill." Throughout all the parts of the Roman dominion, their faith was spoken of or celebrated. This entailed their readiness to embrace the Gospel and their firmness in adhering to it. Their faith was eminent and observable in all their circumstances. The "whole world" was a common term for everywhere. News of these strong believers at Rome and their outspoken faith to the outside world spread throughout the land. Visitors from the various provinces made frequent visits to this capital city. Then and there they learned of this flourishing church and realized their great spiritual impact on the world.
In 1 Corinthians 1:4-5 & 7, we find the Apostle Paul commending the Corinthian believers in a different way than the Romans - "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge...So that ye come behind in no gift..." The Corinthian Church was highly favored of the Lord. They abounded in the blessings of grace - especially in the areas of elocution (testifying for Christ) and the knowledge of divine truth. They were enabled to powerfully preach the Gospel to others and to understand and intelligently embrace the doctrines that they were taught. They abounded in all spiritual gifts - lacking in none.
The Philippian Church was a giving Church. They supported Paul and other ministers in the work of the Gospel. They were liberal in supplying his necessities and in ministering to the needs of others. They were a really missionary church. In Philippians 1:3-5, we read the Apostle's words of appreciation for them - "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now." That word "fellowship" entailed their contributions, almsgiving, and partnership in the furtherance of the Gospel.
The Colossian Church was known for their steadfastness and perseverance in their faith in the Lord Jesus and love to all the saints. They expressed a hearty assent to the beliefs of the Bible by a sincere and constant profession of them. This actually led to an extensive kindness and good will to all men - especially to those who were of the household of faith. Paul thanked God for them in this way - "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which which ye have to all the saints" (Colossians 1:3-4).
Lastly, Paul gave thanks to the Lord for the Thessalonian Church with these words - "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). Theirs was a working faith. It was true, sound, and operative. In all their acts of duty, holiness, and benevolence, they demonstrated that they had a living faith in the Lord Jesus which was influencing their heart and life. This faith led them to sacrificially toil for others. Their labor was produced by love for Christ and people. They worked feverishly to promote the glory of God and the salvation of mankind. Their faith and love then linked up with their hope of eternal life. This hope stirred them onward - giving them the ability to endure hardships and persecutions. It caused them to exemplify patience in trials and an expectation of future blessedness.
"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all..."
"I thank my God always on your behalf..."
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you..."
"We give thanks to God always for you all..."
The Roman Church was commended for their bold witness to the world. The Corinthians "came behind in no gift" - especially in their understanding of the doctrines of the Bible and their ability to preach and teach them unto others. The Philippians were a missions-minded church. They gave liberally of their resources for the furtherance of the Gospel. The Colossian Church was a church that was strong in their beliefs and in their expressions of love to the saints and sinners alike. The Thessalonians were known for their working faith, active love, and enduring hope.
What about the American Church of today? Generally speaking, what could be said about her?
What about your local church or assembly? Is there anything to which the Apostle Paul (if he were alive today) could offer great thanksgiving before the Lord when remembering it before the Throne in prayer?
What about your life? What is it that immediately grips people about your walk with the Lord? Do they come away from you feeling stirred by your knowledge of God, His Word, or His ways? Do they immediately sense the joy of the Lord, a passion for Jesus, a humility of heart and mind, or a love for souls? Do they sense God's Presence and favor on your life? Do they come away from you feeling convicted by your holiness of heart and life - your nonconformity to this world?
"I thank my God always on your behalf______________"
What would the Apostle Paul be thankful for in your life?
May God Bless His Word.
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