I was recently in a Bible study covering Ephesians, and one of the questions in the curriculum set something off in my spirit. As we went through chapter 5, it asked why thankfulness was listed in contrast at the end of this laundry list of sins (...but instead...voice thankfulness).
~Ephesians 5:1-4 (Amplified) - 1Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. 2And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. 3But immorality (sexual vice) and all impurity [of lustful, rich, wasteful living] or greediness must not even be named among you, as is fitting and proper among saints (God's consecrated people). 4Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God].~
It doesn't really seem to follow, at least not right off the bat for me. I am sure there are many interpretations of this but as I pondered it a while, I felt God was impressing upon me that in order to be truly thankful, we have to really (no, I mean really) know Him. When we get just the slightest glimpse of Him - His character/love/goodness/majesty, then all of these (and other) sins would have no effect - we will have no choice but to turn from them and become imitators of God. But how do we really come to know Him, and walk in this true thankfulness? Again I felt God gave me this illustration:
When you give someone a present, for this discussion say...a toy for a child. How thankful are they as they stare at the completely wrapped present? What about when the wrapping is off, and they can see what new gadget awaits? What about when the outer box is off, and they can admire all of the additional features and accessories? What about as you pull off all of the tape/metal ties/jaws of life holding the toy in the box? In my experience, they get more and more excited, and in turn thankful, as they see the fullness of the present revealed.
How many Christians pursue this kind of relationship with God...unwrapping and discovering all there is, never to be deterred by whatever obstacles lie in the way? (I hope by now you're getting a visual of some poor schmuck ripping toy packaging to shreds, desperately trying to free a toy!)
Unfortunately, I think the answer to my question is not very many. So is it really any wonder that we are not very thankful, and thus so easily ensnared by the day to day sins of this life? Mentally, for many of us, God is still in his box...tied down by all the limitations and preconceptions we have put on Him.
As Christian believers, we have to insist on a relationship posture that pulls off the packaging, dives into God, and seeks to explore all of Him. Will you have the courage to challenge yourself to do that? It's not the popular road I will tell you, and once you choose it, there is no going back. As that first glimmer is revealed and then grows brighter and brighter, you're ruined for life...nothing else will satisfy. But herein lies the overwhelming thankfulness for our amazing God, just like the little ecstatic child finally playing with their new present.
And to go back to my original point, overcoming sin becomes easier too, since you are not white-knuckling it trying to resist...but rather, overcome by the wonder of something so much grander than yourself, gliding along on thankfulness right over those former ensnarements!