Do atheists skip Thanksgiving, either Canadian or American? I doubt it. But to whom do they give thanks? I’ve always wondered…
After identifying himself and Timothy in the opening verses of 2 Timothy, Paul begins with thanksgiving. “I thank God…” Parents teach their kids to say thank you, helping them to realize a sense of gratitude rather than entitlement for the goods and services they are consuming. But Paul’s expression of thanksgiving is not simply ‘good manners,’ his heart engagement is with the Source of ‘every good and perfect gift.’
“I thank God…” Will you declare this truth (as Canadians) this weekend? For my international readers, Monday is officially ‘Thanksgiving Day’ in my home and native land. Every day we should be thankful, but in the secularization of our culture I doubt that the majority of citizens will direct their gratitude heavenward. In answer to the query, ‘What are doing this Thanksgiving weekend?’ I doubt if many will answer ‘giving thanks to God.’
For what does Paul thank God? “I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” This is one of Paul’s personal letters and he is thankful for this younger leader, someone who will carry the torch of the gospel into the next generation. Paul has been serving God. He has poured his life out to God who has opened doors of service and called him by grace into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His service, is with a clear conscience, as he has lived with resolve and purpose and profitably redeemed the time entrusted to him.
Part of his leadership role demanded extensive praying. Like the apostles in Acts 6, he had ‘given himself to prayer and the ministry of the word of God.’ If life change occurs only through the power of the Spirit, leaders must demonstrate their absolute dependence upon God. Paul ministered with Timothy but also to Timothy. Leaders minister with congregations but also to congregations. A core part of ministry is prayer, yet it is one of the easiest things to neglect.
We’re ‘too busy to pray.’ We have so much studying to do, we don’t manage much more than a token ‘word of prayer’ before we begin. We don’t pray AFTER we serve. We serve by praying, through praying for every one in our circular of influence. Timothy was on Paul’s prayer list.
Let’s budget some serious time for prayer, for thanksgiving to God for the people in our lives. As our circle of contacts grows, let’s combine our requests with blocks of gratitude for the people He has interjected our lives with in His amazing providence. “I thank God…” Do you?