20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20)
On a scale of one to ten, how thankful are you? Think about that as I relate a couple true life stories to you.
Mark Tidd of Webster, New York, describes an experience from his college days. “An old man showed up at the back door of the house we were renting. Opening the door a few cautious inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables. He bid us a good morning and offered his produce for sale. We were uneasy enough that we made a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear.
“To our chagrin, he returned the next week, introducing himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road. As our fears subsided, we got close enough to realize it wasn’t alcohol but cataracts that marbleized his eyes.
On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing two mismatched right shoes, and pull out a harmonica. With glazed eyes set on future glory, he’d puff out old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion.
“On one visit, he exclaimed, ‘The Lord is so good! I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch.’
‘That’s wonderful, Mr. Roth!’ we said. ‘We’re so happy for you.’
‘You know what’s even more wonderful?’ he asked. ‘Just yesterday I met some people who could use them.’”—Leadership Journal (Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker’s Quote Book: Over 4,500 Illustrations and Quotations for All Occasions [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997], 380)
Here’s one from one of my favorite old preachers:
One day on the streets of London Charles H. Spurgeon was robbed. When he arrived home and told his tale, he said, “Well, thank the Lord anyway.”
His wife countered, “Thank the Lord that somebody stole your money?”
“No, my dear,” answered her husband. Then he began to enumerate some reasons why he was thankful. “First, I’m thankful the robber just took my money, not my life. Secondly, I’m thankful I had left most of our money home and he didn’t really rob me of much. Thirdly, I’m thankful to God that I was not the robber.” (Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker’s Quote Book: Over 4,500 Illustrations and Quotations for All Occasions [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997], 379)
What makes people so thankful? The most thankful people in the world can be, and should be Christians. I say “can be” and “should be” because, of course, often we’re not. And when we’re not, it’s because something is wrong within—we aren’t being Spirit filled. We can see the connection between being Spirit-filled and being thankful in our passage today—
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
We’ve learned that being Spirit-filled means being controlled by the Spirit.
Notice that verse 18 does not end, but continues on (in the Greek and some translations like the KJV). It’s all one sentence. Being filled with the Spirit (or controlled by the Spirit) means that we will be, in verse 19, filled with music. And being filled with the Spirit also means that we will be…
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
So if you aren’t thankful, then you aren’t being controlled by the Spirit. This single verse has much to teach us about being thankful. We learn first that,