On this Thanksgiving Day (actually, for the last few days), I’ve been thinking about and writing about thanksgiving, gratefulness, giving thanks, etc. For this Thanksgiving Day post, I want to return to Paul second letter to the Corinthians. (Well, it may have been his third or fourth letter, but it’s the second letter that still exists, so we call it 2 Corinthians.)
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul writes about the hardships that he has faced while traveling around the Roman Empire proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. But, several times, Paul tells his readers that he does not lose heart and that they should not lose heart.
At one point, Paul makes the following statement:
For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15 ESV)
“As grace extends to more and more people” is a reference to the goal of Paul’s apostolic work. He travels from city to city and from region to region and proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ so that the grace of God might be extended to more and more people.
There are many great things that happen as God’s grace is extended to more and more people. For instance, those people become God’s children. They are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. They become members of one another and members of Jesus Christ. They are justified.
But, notice Paul’s focus in this particular passage. As God’s grace is extended to more and more people, the amount of thanks being offered to God increases, and this brings glory to God.
When Paul thinks of thanking God, he thinks of those people who God has brought into his life (like the believers in Corinth – see 1 Corinthians 1:4). However, thinking about the many people who were continuously being included in God’s family because of the ever increasing reaches of God grace also caused Paul to thank God.
We all have many, many reasons to be grateful to God. Most of us can thank God for our families, our health, for food, for clothing, for shelter. We can thank God for other believers and friends and family. We can thank God for his work in our life and in the lives of the church.
But, let’s never stop thanking God (and encouraging others to thank God) that his grace is being extended to more and more people!