In verses 15 through 17, Paul gives us some absolutes to keep in mind in our Christian life: ever follow that which is good; rejoice evermore; pray without ceasing. These are some pretty firm commands. In verse 18, there is another absolute which we are to remember at all times in our lives:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
In reading this verse, it says we are to give thanks in everything in our lives. Does that mean we are to give thanks for the bad things that happen? What about when we are sick? Are we supposed to give thanks for feeling bad? A closer look at the original Greek word which Paul used for every thing will help shed some light on it.
The word which Paul used for “every thing” is pas. This little Greek word is used over 1200 times in the New Testament. When the translators converted the Greek New Testament to English, this word pas was translated into at least 18 different English words or phrases, depending on the particular use within the verse it was in. In each case, the word means the same or nearly the same. One other particular place which this verse was used is in the book of Matthew. Look at how the word pas is used in it.
Matthew 3:5 “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,”
The Greek word pas is used twice in Matthew 3:5, both times for the word “all”. In this verse, does “all” mean every single person? In other words, when it says that “all Judea and all the region around Jordan”, does that mean every single person from those cities went out? Of course not. A great number from the city, and people from all different parts of the city and regions went out, no doubt. In this case, the tense of the word all needs to be considered. Keep in mind this is the same Greek word which Paul used in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 when we are to give thanks for all things.
How does this relate to the verse in 1 Thessalonians? Paul is telling us to find something to be thankful for in all circumstances we face. Don’t simply give thanks to the Lord when things are going good, and you’re feeling on top of the world. You won’t spend all your time up there. Inevitably there will be times when we aren’t on that mountain but will feel down in the valley. Give thanks to the Lord all time time, no matter where we are or what our circumstances.
In our lives, there will be plentiful times and there will be lean times. Don’t just give thanks to the Lord for the plentiful times and turn your back on God when it gets lean. Always give thanks to the Lord. This all speaks to remaining tried and true to the Lord regardless of our surroundings.
No matter the circumstances, let us remember to find something in it to give thanks to the Lord for.