Tag Archives: gratitude

Gratitude Power

No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:18 (NLT)

In the New Testament, gratitude and appreciation expressed in thanksgiving, has three primary associations.  The first, thanks is given at the communion service (Eucharist) for the broken body and blood of Jesus (Matt. 26; Lk 22; 1 Cor. 11); the second time, thanks is given for the blessings that come through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 2:14; 9:15) and finally, thanks is given for those who come to know Christ and who bring joy to the Apostle Paul (Col. 1:3; Eph. 1:16).

In his letters to the early church and ministry, the Apostle Paul lavishly expressed gratitude to those he wrote to for their role in both receiving the Gospel and in extending God’s “hope of salvation” to others within their immediate sphere of influence.  Paul was well acquainted with the power of gratitude (Ep. 1:15-19; Phil. 1:3-4).

Because gratitude is critical to not only individuals but also to the health of society in general, new focus is being placed on how to increase its occurrence.  Recent studies in the area of psychology confirm that we can intentionally cultivate gratitude with the consequence being increased well-being, joy and happiness.

In addition, gratefulness, especially expression of it to others, is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.  The positive psychology movement has embraced these studies and in an effort to increase overall well-being, has begun to make an effort to incorporate exercises to increase gratitude into the movement.[1]

It is God’s will that in everything, we give thanks.  It is not God’s will that we express gratitude for “gratitude’s sake only” but because with the giving of thanks, His power can be released into our life in ways never before seen.  This includes the formation of incredible joy, unshakeable hope, and unbroken peace (1 Pet. 1:2-4).  The outward expression of appreciation to God and others, works to bring new power and access that, under other circumstances, would be unattainable.

As we examine our walk of faith, we must ask ourselves, “Am I harnessing the full power of gratitude?”  “Am I receiving the benefits of gratitude that are now available to me?”  According to the Greek writer and philosopher, Cicero, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” Maybe it’s time for you to begin engaging in gratitude power.

[1] Wikipedia, “Gratitude”.

The Language of Gratitude

Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?  Luke 17:17 (NRS)

How is “grateful” language developed?   Gratitude, as we defined it is an expression of thankfulness for benefits or goodness.  God is our Eternal Benefactor providing us both good and perfect gifts (Ps. 103:1-6).  While it is understandable that believers should desire to express our gratitude to Him for all His many benefits, we must exercise greater intentionality in displaying our gratitude to the world.  We must develop the language of gratitude.

Interestingly, the concept of thankfulness is noticeably absent in the early writings of the Old Testament.  Instead language that was ordinarily translated as “praise”, such as yadah and todah, was used to convey the concept of thankfulness for God’s works and character (Ps. 118).  It would be later in the wisdom literature that God’s people would be encouraged to express purposeful gratitude for God’s provision and protection (Ps. 107:21-22; Eccl. 5:8-6:9).

In the New Testament the vocabulary for thanksgiving and gratitude expanded with the use of “thanks” (eucharisteo) and other terms such as “grace” (charis).   Jesus thanked God for hearing His prayers (Matt. 11:25) and for raising Lazarus (John 11:41).   The Gospels and the Epistles later developed the concept that gratitude for God’s deliverance in Christ characterizes the language of gratitude (Col. 1:12-14).   As God revealed Himself through His various dispensations, thankfulness and gratitude became a key response by creature man.  This was true in the case of the one leper healed by Jesus in today’s text.

As Jesus passed through the region between Samaria and Galilee, ten lepers entreated Him to have “mercy on them”.  They recognized the possibility of receiving beneficence from Jesus—He would help them in their affliction.  Jesus “saw them”—He recognized their need in this dire circumstance—and then “sent them” to the priest to verify their healing.  As they went, they were made clean.  But one of them saw that he was healed and turned back to Jesus, praising (doxazo) God.  He prostrated himself at Jesus feet and thanked (eucharisteo) Him.   The one leper showed the proper response to Jesus’ act of grace (charis) but what about the other nine?  Were they not grateful?  Why were they not also praising God and thanking Jesus for their healing?

As you read the narrative of the Ten Lepers (Luke 17:11-19), who do you most identify with—the one leper who returned to thank Jesus or the other nine lepers?  What stands in the way of your expressing gratitude to God?  Do you attribute your accomplishments to your efforts and yours alone (pride)?  Do you compare your current life circumstances with that of others and feel “cheated” of your rightful blessings (envy/covertness)?   Are you dissatisfied and discontented with life desiring more than is currently yours (greed/thankless)?  Let your expressions of gratitude mirror those of the one leper who could do nothing less than praise, worship, and thank God for all His goodness.  Begin today practicing the language of gratitude so that when you enter heaven, your gratefulness will explode into joyful praise (yadah and todah) as you stand before our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One who made eternity possible for you (Rev. 19:1-6).

Gratitude

“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 more than any need to be more intentional and thoughtful in our expressions of gratitude to God.

“Gratitude is also getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude by counting our blessings and writing letters of thanks, for example. This proactive acknowledgement can increase our well-being, health, and happiness. Being grateful—and especially the expression of it—is also associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.”[1]

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.   Gratitude is the “proper response” beneficence or to the generosity and kindness from a benefactor.

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).

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.

                [1]   Psychology Today, “The Benefits of Gratitude”.

Gratitude in Action

“Ho, Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters, And you who have no money, Come, buy, and eat.

Yes come, buy wine, and milk, without money and without price.”  lsaiah 55:1 (NKJV)

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving 2017, it is an appropriate time to consider not only what we are thankful for but also, how we show our thankfulness? ln other words, how will we express our gratitude? American writer, Gertrude Stein, offers this view of gratitude: “Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” I agree! Therefore, I challenge you to move beyond quiet thankfulness to Christ-activated gratitude.

Gratitude is a noun that expresses the quality of being thankful and showing readiness to return kindness. This Thanksgiving, we will reflect on many kindnesses shown to our families and to us individually.  As Christ-followers, we are morally obligated to return those acts of kindnesses to others. These opportunities may come to us through individual requests or through needs we personally have identified. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).

Gratitude has also been described as a kindness awakened by a favor received. God has given us great favor. ln Isaiah 55, God is inviting sinners to come and receive the abundant gift of eternal life that is only possible through acceptance of Him.  The sinner is encouraged to seek the Lord while He may be found-to call upon Him while He is near (verse 6).  This invitation is a reflection of God’s love and kindness toward sinner man.

Even today, God invites us to “come, buy, and eat without money and without price.” What God offers is not physical provision for the body (water, wine, and milk) but eternal nourishment for the soul. God’s favor of salvation should awaken kindness within us (2 Peter 1.5, 7) that will result in compassion for others.

Hunger and homelessness are destroying our communities; hopelessness and despair are stealing the dreams of our nation. This holiday, search for opportunities to “give the gift that keeps on giving”—human kindness. This year instead of giving clothing, gift cards, or electronics, give the gift of gratitude in action.

SELAH:  What is standing in the way of you showing “gratitude in action”?  Read and meditate on Luke 17: 11-19 to help you express gratitude in action.