"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."
I don't think there is any controversy here – all Christian churches would believe that giving
thanks to God is a good thing.
Its more than a "good thing" though – its the will of God for you, and for me.
If we are not giving thanks regularly and often, we are out of the will of God.
I believe that failure to give thanks leads to other consequences in life. Failure to give thanks, and the sin of complaining, usually lead to negative situations and various kinds of loss. Consider Romans 1:21:
"because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."
Even people who know God will get their heads messed up and their hearts darkened if they are not thankful. Thankfulness to God is extremely important, and I think we don't spend enough time training people to be so. This isn't good, because as we see it is the open door for a lot of bad things to come into one's life.
It is as if God says, "Well, if you can't be thankful with what you have, I'll take away some of it, until you learn to be thankful."
Consider the Israelites in the wilderness. They often got thirsty and hungry, and life seemed a little boring for them. God was hoping that they would embrace the thrill and challenge of getting to know God directly for themselves, but the Israelites rejected this plan. They told God "You speak to Moses, and we will listen to Him". So instead of getting to know God, they only got to see God's miracles and sometimes God's judgements on them. There wasn't a lot of entertainment for them running around in the wilderness, and there wasn't much variety of food and drink.
The people of Israel frequently complained against Moses and against the Lord. The result of all this complaining was NOT better conditions, but rather, a weakening of their own faith to the point where only 2 men out of the vast multitude of those who left Egypt were considered by God to be spiritually fit to inherit the promises. The rest lost their lives in the desert, and many of them also were destroyed along the way. Consider this:
Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Paul makes it clear that the Israelites were an example for us today, and we should learn from their negative example NOT to do certain things, such as complaining, because such activities however justified they may seem to us, actually open the door for our own DESTRUCTION.
Dear reader, you may find yourself in a difficult situation today. Perhaps your spouse has forsaken you, or you have lost your job, or you face sickness or some other such trial. There will always be a temptation in such situations to become bitter, unhappy and complaining. But with our God, these approaches to life will never improve your situation. Instead of being miserable, practice GIVING THANKS for what you still enjoy, and for what you believe God has promised you!
A lot of the things we need have already been guaranteed to us – subject of course to our just believing what God has said on the matter. Unbelief and doubt may well hinder our reception of God's blessings. One of the key strategies we can employ to overcome these wicked spiritual attitudes is the deliberate cultivation of a grateful heart through learning to GIVE THANKS in all things. For THIS is the will of God for you and for me in Christ Jesus – and it will be so even if we have experienced setbacks.
On the positive side, giving THANKS unlocks the goodness of God into our lives!
King David was one man who had a habit of thanking God constantly. He did have a lot of struggles and troubles in his life, but He always saw beyond them by faith. This enabled him to give thanks to a Good God whom He came to know even from His youth. I think this is one of the reasons why David was so blessed. He rose from obscurity to become a man of tremendous influence, authority, wealth and significance. He went from losing everything to being crowned King of Judah in a short time.
God does not play favourites. But as Samuel learned at the time of David's first anointing, "The Lord looks on the heart". If you want to be attractive to God, if you want to be the man or woman that God is going to single out for blessing, then learn this from David's life, and from other places in the Word of God – PRACTIVE GIVING THANKS TO GOD!!
Even the Lord Jesus, through whom the world was made, gave thanks to the Father for something as simple as bread and wine. And in thanking the Father, Jesus sanctified that food and made it something special for us in the Kingdom of God.