Wisdom and Thankfulness

Have you ever thought that there was a direct connection between being wise and being thankful? Paul did. Look at Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV).

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The times are dangerous Paul says. What makes the times dangerous? People. All people are sinners, therefore anytime there are people around it is dangerous. True some people are more dangerous than others, but when you get a bunch of people together, the more danger there is going to be, because people are not basically good who sometimes do bad things, but (since we are all sinners) people are basically bad who try to do good things! So we had better be wise so that we make the most of every opportunity.

Therefore, if we want to be wise, if we want to make the most out of every opportunity, we will understand what God’s will is, otherwise we will be the opposite of wise, we will be foolish.

God’s will is that we be full of His Spirit. Wisdom, real wisdom, can’t be had by our own spirit. Our spirit is selfish, self-serving, self-centered, self-glorifying. If we are going to be wise we need to be living in the transforming grace of God’s Spirit. When we by grace submit to the grace and love of Jesus Christ, His Spirit transforms us from selfish sinners into conduits of His grace.

When we are full of the Spirit we are by grace moved from being self-serving to other-serving people who show wisdom by speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.

When we are full of the Spirit grace turns us changing us inside out from being self-centered to God-centered people who show wisdom by singing and make music from our hearts to the Lord.

When we are full of the Spirit God turns us upside-down by transforming us from self-glorifying to God-glorifying people who show wisdom by always giving thanks for everything.

And there you have it, wisdom is connected to thankfulness. If we want to be wise, if we want to be full of the Spirit, we will be thankful.

Thankfulness leads to wisdom. Gratitude grows wisdom because of the perspective it brings, that all we have we have by the hand of a gracious God. Being thankful leads us to see ourselves in light of who God is. It leads us to see our own inability, our need, our sin, our unworthiness. It leads us to see everything that is good in our lives as gifts from a God who is gracious, merciful, loving, and good to people who have no good reason to expect anything good, especially from God.

The opposite is also true: wisdom leads to thankfulness. When we have the wisdom to live our life knowing who we are in light of who God is, we are going to be thankful because we know that anything we have to be thankful for is not because we earned it or deserved it, but because God chose to show His grace and love by giving us things to be thankful for. It leads us to the inescapable conclusion that God loves us because He wants to.

When Paul says we should be always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, what he means is that there is always something to be thankful for.

We should be thankful for God’s redemption, grace, and provision we have in Jesus Christ.

Certainly we should be thankful for all the good things we have been given. For me I am thankful for my wife of almost 24 years. I am thankful for my girls. I am thankful for my parents and in-laws. I am thankful for my church family. I am thankful for the men God has given me as spiritual fathers.

But being thankful for everything means we need to be thankful even in the midst of hard things. Elsewhere Paul says we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3, NIV). This has been a particularly hard year for me and my family. We have been through a lot. But God has always been there in the midst of it. I am thankful for how God can take evil, illness, and suffering and use them to show His glory and power, especially when we come to the end of ourselves. As one author I recently read put it, “we are prone to wander but God is prone to pursue.” I am very thankful for that.

And finally as Charlie Jones taught me, we should be thankful even for the opportunity to be thankful.

So how about you? What are you thankful for?


  1. First of all, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! You are right. I haveI much to give thanks for. I am thankful that I can see with the ability to type these words. I am happy I do not have to use an oxygen tank in order to breathe. I am thankful for being able to dress myself every morning. I am thankful for my home church and the ministry I receive during the week. I am thankful for my two sons–even though they are going through a lot right now. I am thankful for the many blessings that I receive on a daily basis. I am thankful that I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of 21. I am thankful for more things than I can think of. I am thankful that Jesus thought of me when He was crucified. He had me on His mind.


  2. I’m mostly thankful that I didn’t pop off without knowing the Lord. I’m a latecomer! 47 years of living overtook me before His grace and mercy found me, and let me live in Him.

    I praise Him for His forgiveness, mercy and truth.


  3. I am thankful for more things than I can enumerate, but some things I like to remind myself to be thankful for that often get forgotten in the midst of my Father’s enormous abundance are those things that God DIDN’T give me. He didn’t give me my birth in a country continually wracked by war or famine, or where it is dangerous to the point of death just to be a Christian. He didn’t give me any diseases that the medical profession is still struggling to get a handle on, or any injuries during all the sports I have taken part in that might have left me with a permanent disability to deal with. All kinds of things that He could have given me, but He didn’t, and when I see those who HAVE been afflicted in these many ways, it makes me want to do as much as I can in his Name to try and lessen their suffering and hardships.


    1. How true that is! We need to be thankful for what we don’t have as well as for what we do! How many things have I asked God for that He was kind enough not to give me? Thanks for sharing.


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