“In everything give thanks.” 1 Thess. 5:18
What is gratitude? It is an emotion expressing appreciation and thankfulness for what one has. Regrettably, believers often miss the mark in articulating their gratitude; we need to be more intentional and thoughtful in our expressions of thankfulness to God. Therefore, we offer as a starting point this mini-series, “The Discipline of Gratitude.”
Gratitude can be practiced by both believers and nonbelievers. People, in general, are slow in offering gratitude. They will sometimes express gratitude when prayers are answered or catastrophes are avoided. However, even in those special circumstances, individuals are more likely to attribute their good fortune to luck than to God’s benevolence.
In the busyness of living, people take for granted those things God provides through His grace to all mankind: the sun and the moon (Deut. 33:14), the regularity with which the seasons change (Gen. 8:22), and the marvels of created life (Rom. 1:20). They fail to recognize their blessings and therefore fail to express gratitude. However, those who are in Christ are obligated to express gratitude to God for all things especially His work of salvation.
With salvation, believers experience a multitude of blessings, both now and in the future. First and foremost is our deliverance from the power and penalty of sin (Rom. 6:9). This release from our sin nature provides instant access to God the Father (Rom. 5:2). We are given a new identity in Christ, both as children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). As new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we are gifted with the presence of the Holy Spirit who empowering us with the same dunamis power that raised Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19).
Eternal life is God’s special gift to believers. It is a gift that cannot be acquired through works or any other path yet is readily available through belief in Jesus the Christ (John 3:16). At that moment, the believer can experience eternal life through God’s presence, peace, and provision. As heirs of God, believers await their final inheritance reserved for them in heaven, when they return to their true home (1 Pet. 1:3-4).
Gratitude is an expression of thankfulness and is the proper response to benefits or beneficence from a benefactor. Beneficence simply means generosity, kindness, and goodness. Believers receive these and much more from God, our Eternal Benefactor. Let us then give a proper and heartfelt response of gratitude to Him.
How is gratitude reflected in your daily faith walk? Do you practice “gratitude” as a spiritual discipline or do you think of it only as Thanksgiving approaches? As believers, gratitude should be engrafted in our spiritual DNA as we daily experience the blessings and promises of God. As we express our gratitude, we share with others our appreciation for what God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. That’s why in everything, we give thanks.
Good to the Last Byte…
Practicing gratitude is as simple as eating a bowl stew. Have fun with this blog article from Chad Daniels on how he learned a new way to practice gratitude. You might want to replace Chad’s references of “luck” with “blessed”. The proper response to gratitude begins in acknowledging the True Benefactor. (Ps. 121)