To be thankful is a direct command of Scripture; if we are not thankful, we are being disobedient. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:18.) Thankfulness, like most important attitudes of the Christian life, originates in the will, not in the emotions. We do not have to feel thankful in order to be thankful. Those who have children train them to say “thank you.” In Britain, children are expected to say “thank you” even before they receive anything. It is simply a matter of proper conduct.
God often deals with us in that way, requiring us to say “thank you” before we actually receive something. Oftentimes, if we wait to receive it first, we will not get it.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:15–17)
This passage makes two demands of us: to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, and to give thanks while doing them. These instructions apply to every task, whether it’s scrubbing the kitchen floor, cleaning the bathroom, driving the car, or writing a letter.
That gives us a pretty good gauge of right and wrong. If there is anything that we cannot honestly do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks all the while, then we’d better not do it. This method cuts away a whole list of do’s and don’ts. It is a basic principle to guide our words and actions.