Gratefulness is such a rare, God-given quality. It attracts others and gives life to the person who displays it.
Paul admonishes the church in Thessalonica saying, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-18).
But how do we cultivate this attitude of "always-thankfulness" in our lives?
1. Recognize how much you've been forgiven
Nearly a decade ago while ministering at a youth camp in Iowa, I had an unforgettable moment with the Lord. While kneeling at a camp bunk bed reading the story of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman in Luke 7, I read the passage which says "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." (v. 47, NIV). I realized that I must recognize how much I've been forgiven by Christ, or I would only love Him a little. I quietly began to weep for more than a half hour as my heart poured forth like a stream of repentance for all the many ways I had sinned against my Lord.
2. Recognize what's in store for you
As I wrote in my recent blog Dreams are Overrated:
We must remember in the pursuit of goals and dreams in this life that we have something greater than dreams - we can have confidence in something far beyond the wildest human dreams or comprehension possible because of the finished work of Christ on the cross! Because Christ went to the cross for us - something greater than our wildest dreams is already DONE for us! Because Christ has paved the way and prepared eternity in heaven for us - something greater than our wildest dreams is already WAITING for us!
3. Recognize your spiritual blessings
Love this list I found online from a blog which shares some great Scriptures on thankfulness. The Scripture writer's thank God for His mercy (1 Chron. 16:34), righteous judgements (Psalm 119:62), victory in Christ (1 Cor. 15:57), His indescribable gift (2 Cor. 9:15), qualifying us to be partakers in the inheritance of the saints (Col. 1:12), for choosing us (2 Thess. 2:13), for the grace of God given by Christ (1 Cor. 1:4), for exceedingly growing faith and love for one another (2 Thess. 1:3), among other spiritual blessings in Christ, and far outweighing any other types of blessings in this life!
4. Recognize that God has already provided you with what you need for now
James 1:17 teaches us that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights." Philippians 4:19 promises along with this, "God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." So often we get stuck in the mentality that we need just "a little more" of this or that in our lives. We need to recognize that we are already provided for, and God has given us enough. Out of this flows a grateful heart.
A friend recently shared a news article with me about the world's wealthiest, a list of people with an average net worth of 75 million US dollars or more. A large group of these people were studied, and it was discovered that many of them didn't feel financially stable. Many felt if they just had 10% more net worth, they would be okay.
As the research shows, it doesn't matter how much God gives us - the human condition causes us to worry and question rather than being grateful, and we must lay this aside to be present and take full advantage of everything God has given us.
What things in your life are you realizing you should be more grateful for today - please share by commenting on this article below.