Yesterday Paul’s manner of prayer was on display in that he began with thanksgiving. Here the subjects of His prayer life are on display. He thanked God for them all. If we be thankless concerning what God is doing in us and for us, how much more thankless are we with regard to what God is doing in others and for others and through others? This thought should wound our selfishness. Recall that Paul is praying here for people he had not yet met.
The people Paul is thankful for in our verse were not the fruit of his own labors. And yet he rejoiced over them. It is so easy to become blind to what God is doing outside our lives, our homes, our churches, and our prayer meetings. God is bigger than any one family. God is bigger than your denomination. God is at work and we must learn to be thankful for God’s work even when it doesn’t include us. How easy it is to become narrow minded, to assume that if a thing is not done the way I imagine it should be done, then it’s not done right.
Can we rejoice and be thankful for what God is doing in the life of another or are we so spiritually weak as to become jealous? Can we rejoice when God is using another man or woman to do great things or does it make us almost resent the success they enjoy? Can we rejoice when our brothers and sisters are advancing in grace or do we feel threatened by the possibility of their being better than us? May God give us humble and mature spirits to be able to thank God “for all.”
“A thankful heart is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a believer. It stands in stark contrast to pride, selfishness, and worry. And it helps fortify the believer’s trust in the Lord and reliance of His provision, even in the toughest times.”—John MacArthur