“I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,” Philemon 1:4
When was the last time I knelt down and presented to God a list of people and the reasons why I’m thankful for them?
Honestly, it’s been years.
It’s not that I don’t love people or that I’m not deeply thankful for the people God’s blessed my life with. I know some people can be quite irritating and obnoxious but, ask my wife and kids, they’ll tell you, I can be irritating and obnoxious too.
The thing is, if we’re thankful for people we need to say so. Expressing thankfulness affirms both the person who did the action and God who was the originator of the person, their abilities, and most times the very idea for the blessings that were done.
But too often our list of people we’re thankful for goes unwritten while we focus our attention on our wish lists, or our complaint lists, or our lists of the needs we perceive we have.
My guess is that if we focused our attention on the people that have and are blessing our lives we’d find that God has anticipated our actual needs and they’re either being met or the actual fulfillment is waiting for something from us, like perhaps an expression of appreciation for what we’ve already gotten.
Paul also makes it very clear that he’s not hit or miss when it comes to his list of people he’s thankful for. “I thank my God, making mention of you ALWAYS in my prayers.” That word, “always,” tells us that Paul is in the habit of frequently expressing his thankfulness to God for the people that bless his life.
And Paul doesn’t just say that he’s thankful, he also quantifies why he’s thankful by spending the next two verses specifying some of the ways that Philemon has been a blessing to Paul and the church.
I hope some of us will make an effort to be more expressive with our thankfulness but I have some advice. When it comes to others, go gently. We’re used to people using praise and thanksgiving manipulatively. Too often anything good said about us, to us, is just a way of greasing the wheels so they can get something from us. So, go gently. Use your thankfulness like salt. Rather than a lot all at once use it moderately and frequently.
And we need to not forget to include God in the chain of who we express our thankfulness to. James 1:17 tells us that he’s the source of every good gift. He’s worthy of far more thankfulness and praise than we could ever express.