Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
—Ephesians 5:20 (KJV)
It is hard to really praise the Lord without being thankful for all He has done and trusting Him for all He is going to do. If we remove thankfulness from our lives—if we dwell on our problems instead of focusing on God—it is very easy to start glorifying our problems instead of praising God. This scripture is not encouraging us to give thanks to God for all the bad things that happen in our lives. It encourages us to praise God no matter what our circumstances.
Ephesians 5:20 is a verse that has been used to teach that everything that happens in our lives comes from God. We live in a fallen world where the enemy comes against God’s children. We live in a world where God has given us free choice. We can live His will for our lives or not live it. Some of the bad things in our lives are not just because we live in a fallen world. We experience the result of bad choices we have made.
God’s nature is love. God so loved the world, He gave us His Son. He is the author of all that is love—of all that is good in our lives. Satan is the author of everything that is evil. Satan comes against us trying to steal, kill, and destroy our faith. Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). If I praise God for the bad things that happen in my life, I give praise to the enemy for the destruction he brings.
Paul referred to the thorn in the flesh that was given to humble him as “a messenger of Satan.” “Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul learned from his thorn in the flesh. But this verse clearly says that it was a messenger of Satan. Yes, we can learn from the evil that comes against us (Romans 8:28), but learning from something bad in our lives does not mean that God is the author of it.
Paul praised God in all circumstances. “In everything give thanks,” he wrote, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul addressed the specifics of our faith in Christ and our actions that were to be the result of it—such as rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in all circumstances. In Ephesians 5:20, Paul used the phrase “giving thanks for all things” expecting the Ephesians to have a basic understanding of the goodness of God.
God’s goodness is what draws us to Him. It is what draws us to repentance. Evil never draws us to repentance. The purpose of evil is death—not life. God is not the one who causes bad things in our lives. God expects us to have an understanding that we are not to praise Him for the evil things that happen to us.
Paul’s whole letter to the Ephesians was sent to encourage them to know who they are in Christ and use what they had received in Christ. In his teaching, Paul expected them to have a basic understanding of their faith. He expected that they would know it was wrong to praise God for the evil the enemy causes. Another phrase Paul used in Ephesians 5:20, which showed that he expected them to have a basic understanding, was instructing them to give thanks “unto God and the Father.” Paul expected them to know that his use of the phrase “unto God and the Father” did not mean that there were two separate entities they were to thank. He expected them to believe He was speaking of giving thanks no matter what their circumstances to the one God, their Father.
Often, we say words that if analyzed too literally, give the wrong impression. At some point in our lives, we have probably used the phrase, “everybody is doing it.” Do we really mean that every person in the world is doing what we spoke about? Of course not. And anyone who would try to base an argument on that reasoning would be considered foolish.
Paul certainly never expected Christians to believe that things like murder and a mass of other evil things were all blessings from God. He certainly does not expect us to praise God for evil. He saw no need to make his statement in this verse any clearer.
It is so important to study all the Scripture so that we know what God expects—to know and experience His will for our lives. In all things—no matter what you face—no matter what evil the enemy throws at you, trust the Lord, your God, your Father. Praise Him for the truth that the Word reveals—not for the lies of the enemy attempting to destroy your faith.
Give praise to God for the good. Give praise to God in the bad but don’t give him credit for it. Give credit where it is due.
© 2023 Lynn Lacher