From the Preacher’s Pen… Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at several of God’s gifts to us as human beings. The gift of labor helps us to find value even as we grow and learn. Friendship teaches us to be a part of a team that we might accomplish more together than separately. The gift of money teaches us what we may accomplish in doing for and helping others rather than selfishly doing only for ourselves. And the gift of family gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly relationship envisioned by God for His people.
Next, we consider a gift that teaches a lesson that goes beyond simple politeness to something even greater…
The Gift of Gratitude
The concept of gratitude can be a difficult one for us to appreciate. The word itself comes from the ideas of good will, thankfulness and pleasing. But it is all too easy to confuse selfishness with gratitude. In fact, much of the unhappiness of people comes from making that mistake.
Gratitude is really the ability to humbly be thankful or grateful. Real gratitude brings joy, meaning, and purpose to life. The person who feels they deserve every good thing never experiences true gratitude. And, of course, genuine thankfulness, like true humility, is a godly trait best understood and appreciated by knowing the Lord.
Psalm 50:23 says, Whoever offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors [God]. Psalm 107:1 puts it like this: Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! For us to honor God or anyone else we must be thankful. There is no such thing as accidental gratitude.
Even when things go wrong and we are suffering we must choose to cultivate gratitude. And, in doing so we find meaning and purpose. After his sin with Bathsheba, David longed to again experience the joy of gratitude. In Psalm 51 he would write: Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.… Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. (Psalm 51:7-9 & 12-13)
In order to be whole again, David needed to have gratitude for the right things. Only then would he ever be complete.
Paul commanded the Colossians: Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude (Colossians 2:6-7). And the Hebrew writer adds: Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe (Hebrew 12:28).
Always remember that gratitude is an active verb, not a passive attitude and it does its best work when in the company of God. Only when we recognize our pride, arrogance and consequential failure before God can we begin to develop the humility from which comes true gratitude, true thankfulness and the genuine appreciation of God and His gifts.
It is impossible to take a person seriously that lacks gratitude. Are you working to acquire and use God’s gifts and blessings?
— Lester P. Bagley