Thankfulness is a way of expressing the peace of Christ that rules in our hearts, an expression of the Word of Christ dwelling richly within us. Giving thanks is a principle that should guide all that we do. (See Colossians 3:15–17.) Let’s look at three short but no less important verses, starting with 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” There are three simple instructions in those verses: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks. Concerning the giving thanks in everything, Paul said, “This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When we are not giving thanks, we are not fulfilling the will of God. In other words, we are out of God’s will. How important it is to understand that!
The second thing I want to say about thankfulness, or thanksgiving, is that it is an essential expression of the fullness of the Spirit. Paul wrote, “Do not quench the Spirit” (verse 19). Here is what he said to the Ephesians: “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17–18 nasb).
Paul provided us with a negative, followed by a positive, regarding the will of the Lord. If we do not understand these truths about God’s will, then we are foolish. Each exhortation is equally valid. It is wrong for a Christian to get drunk with wine, but it is equally wrong for a Christian not to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, as religious people, we focus so much on the negative—not filling ourselves with wine so that we become drunk—that we forget about the positive—being filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to be filled with the Spirit.