What if you were imprisoned for preaching the gospel? Imagine the guards that supervised you hated what you stood for. The criminals beside you thought you were as guilty as they were. Your wrists ached because of the handcuffs, and the cuts on your ankles could not heal because of the stocks that bound them.
Now, imagine that I tell you something impossible to do.
I tell you, “Give thanks always for all things.” If you would be completely honest, would you not think that this is impossible? You would be right.
In Ephesians 5:20 we read, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As a Christian this is required of us. How could God require something so impossible?
The reason God can require this impossible task is because He also supplies the super-natural means to fulfill the task. In context, this verse is part of a long sentence that begins with a command to “be filled with the Spirit.” The “giving thanks” comes as a natural outflow of being filled with the Spirit of God.
As we are filled with the Spirit, we through the Spirit’s enabling can give thanks “always.” This does mean all the time. We through the Spirit can give thanks “for all things.” This means exactly what it says. Obviously, this type of “thanksgiving” is not based on the surrounding circumstances. It is truly super-natural.
Try giving thanks during all the unpleasant circumstances that come your way. How will that work? It won’t. You will end up failing and then justifying your failure with the thought that anybody would complain in your situation. Your complaining is NEVER justified.
You are required to be thankful, yet you yield to the outward circumstances rather than yielding to the inward filling of the Spirit. This is failure. This is sin.
You also need to understand something else is impossible. It is impossible to be filled with the Spirit and complain at the same time. The natural outflow of the Spirit-filled life is thanksgiving. The natural outflow from the flesh-filled life is complaining.
Did Paul and Silas complain while in prison for preaching the gospel? No. Their hearts were so full of thanksgiving they overflowed with song. They demonstrated what Ephesians 5:20 teaches us. May we apply the same to our life.
Be filled with the Spirit in order to give impossible thanks!