Thanksgiving first

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all" Romans 1:8

Of first order for Paul was the giving of thanks. I would like to encourage the reader with three observations from the text-

I thank my God. God is to be thanked because he is the giver of all things. Paul recognized that all that proceeded and all that was to follow in the lives of the Roman believers was the gift of God. In particular, Paul was thankful for their faith. It was the treasure he sought. He was so thankful for their faith that he wanted to impart more of it to them and even receive more of it for himself (verses 11-12). All comes from God, and especially the spiritual life of trusting him.

Through Jesus Christ.  Paul's thanksgiving had a Mediator. It was through Christ that Paul offered his thanks before God's throne. Our giving of thanks is sorely imperfect, and even the heartfelt offering of it to God must be mediated through Jesus Christ, who presents it spotless to the Father on our behalf and with great joy. His mention of Jesus Christ also reminds us that the faith he was thankful for came through Christ and his finished work.

For you all. Paul wasn't thankful for faith as an abstract concept floating around out there somewhere; he was thankful for their faith. His deepest gratitude to God centered on people. Today, give thanks to God for the people in your life, and especially for those who trust Jesus. Encourage one another by your faith. And for those who don't believe, show your gratitude for them by urging them to flee the judgment to come and find refuge and life and joy and peace in Jesus Christ today. On all sides, let faith in Christ be the chief dish passed around the table. Now that would be worthy of great thanksgiving.