Is It Possible to Thank God Too Much?

Is It Possible to Thank God Too Much?

Give thanks always 

In the first chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul addresses the sinfulness of people, who failed to glorify God and failed to thank Him: 

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). 

“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice” (Romans 1: 29). 

Giving thanks to God is a vital part of our relationship with Him, and it may reveal our closeness to Him. It is not surprising that the Apostle Paul, through his many epistles to churches, encourages all of us to give thanks to God in all circumstances. Here are three examples of his instruction on thanksgiving from his epistles to three different churches: 

Giving thanks to God is a vital part of our relationship with Him.

“...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

“ thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). 

These words of the Apostle Paul may make us wonder if we are thanking God as we ought to. Are we busy pushing “I want lists” to God in our prayers, however legitimate they may be, without thanking Him? What made it easy for Paul to be profusely thankful to God? He was aware God loved him. He knew God was a caring father to him under all circumstances. He said: 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). 

Thanking God in “all circumstances” 

All the circumstances in our life fall between two extremes, the desirable extreme and the undesirable extreme. We pray for and welcome those circumstances that are closer to the desirable extreme in our lives but shun circumstances that are closer to the other extreme.  

All the circumstances in our life fall between two extremes.

Paul says, thank God regardless of the desirability of your circumstances. Is it possible to do so? Paul is being truthful when he asks us to be thankful in “all circumstances.” He was in prison while writing some of his famous epistles including the “Epistle of Joy,” as his epistle to the Philippians is described by some. This epistle, which is peppered with the terms, “joy” and “rejoice,” betrays the fact it was written during his unjust imprisonment.  

The Apostle Paul does not complain that his time in the prison was a disaster for his vigorous church planting ministry, instead he says even his prison guards in Rome were aware of “his imprisonment for Christ.”  

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me [sitting here in the prison] has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Philippians 1:12-13). 

Paul was a leader and an itinerant missionary, who planted churches in various cities along his mission trips. Constrained to a life in prisons, first in Caesarea and later in Rome, he could not be the itinerant church planter he longed to be. Yet, he was thankful to God without complaining, while encouraging us to be thankful through his epistles; through those epistles he has been preaching and teaching about Jesus Christ for 2000+ years.  

Daniel thanked God under threat of execution 

The Apostle Paul is not alone in grasping the vital role of thanksgiving in his relationship with God. The Bible records that, during Daniel’s Babylonian exile from Jerusalem, with the knowledge of King Darius’ order prohibiting prayers to any god, “He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously”(Daniel 6:10). The king’s prohibition against prayers to God was accompanied by a deadly consequence; violators were thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6:10-13). 

Well-known leaders such as the Apostle Paul and Daniel were generously thankful to God in all circumstances; are you? You can never thank God too much! Try it! 

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Paul Swamidass

Paul Swamidass, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. INTEREST: Leadership training for leaders of Christian organizations. He has published some articles on Christian leadership and contributed to some Christian-leadership training in India in partnership with The Kerusso Institute for Global Leaders

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