Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4–7—NKJV)

The American holiday that most represents the general, day-in/day-out Christian attitude is Thanksgiving. Not only is it related to a crucial, historical event involving devout Christians who hazarded everything for religious freedom, but it is the holiday that begs a question. To whom should you give thanks? The answer must be your Creator, your Maker, God Himself. It certainly is implied that thanksgiving is to be given to God for evidences of His providential care, both large blessings and small.

It goes without saying that the holiday celebrated by Americans for one day, and that not very well, ought to be observed by Christians every day of the year. Believers are called to thanksgiving in every circumstance. Our passage from the book of Philippians continues to unfold beyond the verses stated above. Paul states in verse 11 and following, “for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The general attitude of a Christian, that which is to be considered by the world at large as the characteristic Christian outlook, is one of thankfulness for God’s favor. Paul’s challenge to the Philippian believers is that they face life while standing firm in Christian values. The values listed from verses 4–9 are joy, gentleness, prayer, thinking, and obedience. If these values are our focus, then thanksgiving will be the general attitude that all around us will observe on a daily basis.

The first value is joy. Joy is evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in every genuine believer’s heart. It is not a fleeting happiness, a mirage, or a frivolous pursuit. The subject of joy “bookends” our passage in both verses 4 and 9. In verse 9 it appears in the phrase, “and the God of peace will be with you.” The peace-imparting presence of Christ wherever we go, and whatever we do, is expressive of the deep-running, constantly renewed communion that we have that quiets and comforts the believer. This is the kind of rejoicing that Paul is commanding the Philippians to embrace and display. The joyful heart is a solid foundation for thanksgiving.

The second value is gentleness. It is termed “moderation” in the KJV. The Greek word chosen by Paul means humble graciousness, sweet reasonableness, not unduly rigorous, to be satisfied with less than your due. How this fleshes out in real life is threefold: be kind (in contentment with and generosity toward others), be forgiving (in dealing with shortcomings and errors of others), and be enduring (patience in the face of injustice). This value is to be experienced by all who are familiar with you. All can be endured when you remember that the Lord is at hand. It is the hope of the rapture of the church that enforces gentleness and cures worry. The gentle spirit will always take note of things for which to be thankful.

The third value is prayer. Paul’s warning is to refrain from worry. Do not be “drawn apart, not even in one thing.” The cure for worry is devoted prayer, or, better yet, devotion in prayer. Believing prayer and supplication are where your personal needs and requests are made known to your heavenly Father. Coupling prayer with thanksgiving paves the way for the peace of God to well up within you and spill over to all around you. The practical function of the peace of God in your life is to “guard” your heart. Paul’s word literally means to garrison your heart, to mount a guard and patrol your heart. Essentially Paul’s advice is: Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything, give thanks to God in everything, and the peace of God will rule and reign. The “new normal” attitude of a Christian is a “Gratitude Attitude.”

From here Paul investigates the value of Christian thinking in verse 8 and the value of obedience in verse 9, both of which serve to enrich and mature thanksgiving in every believer’s heart. Are you practicing the Christian values that lead to genuine thanksgiving? What sort of Christian testimony do you bear toward the lost? Do others see Christ in you and give thanks? Trust and obey.