But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you….
— 2 Thessalonians 2:13
One day Denise and I were talking about different things we had survived throughout our many years of ministry together. It started out as a positive conversation, but before I realized what was happening, I had slipped into thinking of all the people who had wronged us over the years. Soon I felt myself sinking mentally and emotionally into the sticky mire of those negative thoughts.
Finally, I realized my thoughts were going in the wrong direction and swiftly put on the brakes. I shifted into reverse to get out of that mode of thinking and began to mentally compile a list of everyone who had been a blessing to us over the years. The number of individuals who had been a blessing to us was so long that I couldn’t stop listing them! In comparison, the sheer number of these blessed connections swallowed the names of those who had become negative memories in our lives.
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One brother’s name in particular literally made me smile. Just the mention of his name put a smile on my face. I decided I would say his name to several other people who knew him to see how his name affected them — and every person, without exception, smiled when I mentioned his name. I thought, What a blessing that the mere mention of a person’s name would make people smile!
This must have been how Paul felt about the Thessalonian believers, because when he wrote to them, he said, “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you…” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
The word “bound” is the Greek word opheilo, which describes an obligation. Whenever Paul began to ponder the great things God had done in the lives of the Thessalonian congregation, he felt obligated to stop what he was doing and give thanks to God for that group of believers. The mere thought of the Thessalonians put a smile on his face! They had been such a blessing to Paul that he literally felt an obligation to stop whatever he was doing to thank God for them.
Likewise, we, too, must learn to stop and thank God for what He has done in the lives of those around us — especially those who have been a blessing to us and who cause us to smile at the mere thought of them! We have an obligation to stop and remember all that God has done and to give Him thanks.
The phrase “to give thanks” in this verse is the Greek word eucharistos. The first part of the word is eu. This word means good and implies a good feeling or a pleasant, inner warmth. The second word is charis, which is the Greek word for grace. By compounding these two words, Paul revealed that when he thought of the Thessalonians, the feelings he had for them were so rich, warm, pleasant, and gratifying that thanksgiving flowed effortlessly out of his heart like a river of divine grace. Thanking God for these believers wasn’t hard for Paul; on the contrary, restraining his thanksgiving for them would have been much more difficult. It was easy for Paul to thank God for this particular group of believers.
The word “always” is the Greek word pantote. In this context, it means every time we think of you or at each and every opportunity. Paul’s memory of the Thessalonians was so sweet that whenever he thought of them, thanksgiving arose in his heart.
This part of Second Thessalonians 2:13 could be interpreted to mean:
“Every time we think about you, thanksgiving floods out of our hearts! We are so overwhelmed with thanksgiving that we actually feel obligated to stop whatever we are doing to take a few minutes to express to God how much we appreciate you.…”
I don’t know if you’ve ever slipped into the mode of remembering everyone who has ever done something wrong to you. If you have, you know what a negative experience that can be. But today I want to urge you to do the opposite — make a list of those who have been a blessing in your life! I believe you’ll find that your heart begins to overflow with thanksgiving to the Lord, just as was true for the apostle Paul concerning the Thessalonians. The mere thought of certain people He has brought into your life to bless you will probably put a big smile on your face!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I want to say thank You for the people who are so faithful, kind, and encouraging that the mere mention of their names makes me want to smile. I am grateful for such people. Forgive me for focusing on the negative experiences I’ve had with people when the actual list of people who have been a blessing to me is so large. I ask You to help me remember those who put a smile on my face when I am attacked, hurt, or offended by others. Help me quickly remember that bad experiences with people are in the minor category, and that most people have been a blessing to me. As I make a list of those who have been true blessings in my life, show me how to express my gratitude to You and to them for the blessing they have been in my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I boldly and easily declare that my life has been blessed with people who have loved me, cared for me, and have been a blessing to me. When I am tempted to drag up the names and memories of those who have hurt me in some way, I will refuse to dwell on those memories but will put on the brakes and act in reverse, compiling a list of the people who have been a blessing. The truth is, there are more who have been for me than those who have been against me. When I think of all the longstanding relationships with people who have loved and forgiven me in spite of myself and are still being kind to me even today, it would be ungrateful for me to dwell on negative people. So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am reversing my mental focus! I’m going to thank God for the people He has used to put a smile on my face.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you ever made a list of people who have been a blessing to you over the course of your lifetime? It may be easier for you to think of people who have wronged you, since human nature has an easier time remembering negative experiences. But why don’t you set aside some time to write down the names of those people who have been a blessing to you? I think you’ll be surprised to see how long your list becomes!
- Do certain individuals come to mind when you ask yourself who always put a smile on your face? Have you ever stopped to tell them what they mean to you? Put yourself in their shoes, and think how much it would mean to you if someone told you how much you had been a blessing to him or her. It doesn’t take long to write a note, make a call, or send a text message. Why not do this for someone today?
- Are you the kind of person that the mere mention of your name or the mere thought of you makes someone else want to smile? Does the thought of you uplift others and put a smile on their faces, or does your name evoke a sense of heaviness and negative memories? If the answer is the latter, what areas might need to change in your behavior to reverse that negative testimony with other people?