Do you need a gratitude adjustment? We are living in a day where it is far more easy for people to criticize than praise, to express disappointment than gratitude, to complain than give thanks, and to count our losses rather than count our blessings. Scripture calls us over and again to give thanks to the Lord: “Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good; his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). The apostle Paul tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We are called to give thanks not just in the good circumstances, but in all circumstances.
Jesus told a story of a day he came across 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19). They cried to him for mercy, and Jesus sent them to priests. On the way, they realized they were healed. Their leprosy was gone. They were free. Only one of the men turned back to find Jesus, fell at his, and gave thanks and praise. Jesus was grateful for his faith and his gratitude, but he also noted that the other nine had not returned to say thanks. Our God loves gratitude. A thankful heart and a voice lifted to God in thanks gets the attention of heaven. Thanksgiving is not just a holiday, but it is meant to be a lifestyle.
Not only does God loves gratitude, but He is offended by our ingratitude. Jesus was grateful for the one leper who returned, but you can sense he was truly disappointed that the other nine did not feel the desire or need to come back and give thanks. A lack of gratitude is really a path to much deeper spiritual problems than we can imagine. In Romans chapter 1, the apostle Paul speaks of how humanity has completely turned and rebelled against Him worshipping created things rather than the Creator. In the end, he said the problem was they didn’t honor or glorify God or give thanks to Him. They would not give thanks to God for all of His goodness and all He had done. God had given them their very life and so much more, and yet they were not satisfied. They wanted life on their own turns. They did not want God to be the leader and lord of their lives. Their lack of “doxology” led to depravity. Prolonged ingratitude can lead to rebellion which will draw God’s frustration and anger.
Gratitude is an attitude and response of thankfulness to the kindness of God and others. When we realize every good thing we have in life is a result of God’s goodness and kindness, we should naturally become thankful. Gratitude is a true response when we realize that God owes us nothing. The lepers cried out for mercy. Mercy is not something deserved. It is God’s gracious gift. Thank God that he doesn’t give us what we deserve. He gives us mercy and grace instead. Gratitude comes when we understand how much God has given us and how much he has done for us, and how little we deserve it all.
Gratitude grabs God’s attentions, and changes us as well. There are so many studies these days about the power of gratitude. Thankfulness can rewire the brain. Gratitude can help us overcome fear and anxiety. Gratitude can release our heart into greater joy.
So what are you thankful for? Have you ever done a gratitude challenge? Take the holidays and start each day with 2 to 3 minutes of just giving thanks to God. Perhaps you can start a gratitude journal. Be intentional. Take time and be thankful. You will be thankful that you did. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-634-2960.