Food created huge controversy in the early church. First there was the issue of dietary laws that Jews had followed all their lives—that Gentile believers did not know or keep! There was also the issue of pagan sacrifice. Some of the meat for sale in the market had first been offered to idols.

So Paul wrote some interesting verses in I Timothy 4:4-5: “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

The context begins with food but then Paul makes a pun about being “nourished on the truths of the faith” (v 6) and goes on to talk about godliness in general. I think that means Paul’s principle can be applied more broadly . . . and I think that principle is this: prayerful thanksgiving sanctifies.

How does this work? I think that when something difficult comes into our lives, if we choose to continue in an attitude of thankful prayer, then even that thing itself is sanctified. It has been set apart to God.

Thankfulness is an expression of faith and trust. It is an indication that we still believe in the goodness of God. Instead of fear or anger, thankfulness creates a climate where we can abide in God regardless of outside circumstances . . . and that is valuable. Second Corinthians 4:15 explains that thanksgiving brings glory to God. Hebrews 12:28 goes further, linking thanksgiving to worshiping God “acceptably.”

There are good, bad, and neutral things in life. All can be set part for God (sanctified as an act of worship.