Paul begins verse 3 with a conjunction, which means that his comments are linked to the command in verse 2 to walk in love, a lifestyle that gives a pleasant fragrance. The sinful details he mentions in verses 3-7 – immoral behaviour and speech and covetousness – give off an unpleasant odour when they are practised. Instead of a perfume factory, they describe a sewer.
Paul wrote these words in an age when the common form of communication was by speech. But his advice does concern reading about such things, whether in the newspapers, magazines and books or watching them on television or video. We should have nothing to do with anything that causes immoral and covetous thinking.
Instead Paul reminds his readers that they should be marked by thanksgiving. Covetousness indicates a sense of dissatisfaction with what one has, and jealousy concerning what another has. Thanksgiving includes gratitude for what one has and for what others have.
As believers, we should be thankful because we have an inheritance in the kingdom of God. This inheritance has present as well as future aspects. We belong to a kingdom with a never-ending supply of all that we need (Phil. 4:19). Our King is committed to the welfare of each of his subjects because these subjects are his brothers and sisters.
Thanksgiving is the result of contemplation on all the blessings that God has given us. Further, it should be the outcome of meditation on all the promises that God has made.
Thanksgiving should be comprehensive. Paul instructs believers to give thanks in every situation (1 Thess. 5:18). That does not mean that we give thanks for every situation but it does mean that we see every situation through the teaching of God’s Word. It is easy enough to see how we should be thankful in good times, but we are also to be thankful in bad times. The knowledge that God is with us in these situations and will work them for our good should result in thanksgiving for his faithfulness.
Thanksgiving should be ceaseless or continual. It is not to be limited to formal occasions of prayer and worship but should characterise our lives. Gratitude is the only way to live the Christian life. We love him because he first loved us. Our daily obedience is an expression of gratitude.
Thanksgiving is an expression of consecration. Thanksgiving expresses our dependence on and devotion to God. It strengthens our humility because we realise we are dependent on him and it stimulates our devotion because we know he can supply more than we need.