Why begin with praise?

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 [ESV]

Loon’s Posturing | Lewiston, MI | August 2022

My dad, many years ago, attended the Dale Carnegie course. He did it to improve his business skills as well as his interpersonal skills. My sister and I would make fun of him because he would say things like, “Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic!” Eyerolls abounded! He also learned and taught me the Sandwich Method of providing criticism. You start with a complement, give the correction or criticism, then end with an affirming comment. It was meant to blunt the impact of the more difficult or negative feedback.

But that’s not what Paul is up to here. He begins with praise because that reflects his heart. He is truly joyful because of God’s work in and through him, and in and through the people of Thessalonica. This is the way Paul rolls. In nearly all of his letters he begins with some sort of blessing (e.g., “Grace and peace to you…”) followed by words of thanks to God: I thank my God for you in some manner of another.

He recognizes that he ought to give thanks to God for them because of their faith in God and their love for each other. He is genuinely thankful for these brothers and sisters in Christ. He recognizes their blessing to him and to each other. He is grateful that they glorify God by their steadfast faith and growing love. He says that he should have this attitude of gratitude. It’s not only a good attitude. It’s a proper and expected conviction.

Starting with thanks is proper, good, right, and salutary. We say it in the communion liturgy: It is good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks go you Holy God…” Good: beneficial, blessing, and edifying. Right: proper, appropriate, and decent. Salutary: beneficial, up-building, and confirming.

One of the condemning failures of sinful man is a failure to Give thanks to God. “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,” says Paul in Romans 1:21. Praise is proper. It puts things in perspective. It honors God. It puts problems in perspective. We properly start with praise and thanks to God for his grace to us and his work in others. It’s the right thing to do.

1 comment
  1. rgboepp said:

    I give thanks to God for you Brother! Blessings!

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