10. Express Your Attitude of Gratitude
Thankfulness is the attitude that perfectly replaces our sinful tendency to complain and, in so doing, releases joy and blessing into our lives. Thankfulness is the ideal replacement for complaining.
Paul praises God for the salvation of the Thessalonians. Notice: Paul mentions all three members of the trinity in this verse II Thessalonians 2:13, But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. Not only did he again express his thanks for them, but he also wrote they were beloved of God. That in itself should bear encouragement. Sometimes we think that we are thankful people, but too often we neglect to express our gratitude. Often this is the result of failure to appreciate what we have.
Gratitude is a Vital Virtue
Here are three reasons gratitude is a vital virtue for spiritual development:
1. God requires our thanksgiving
Thanksgiving, as we have just noted, is a form of praise to God. When we thank God we give credit to Him. That honors and praises God. Praise is to be continuous. God's performance, unlike our performance, is always praiseworthy. The most important reason we express gratitude is because God requires we offer Him our thanks. He takes our gratitude, or lack thereof, extremely seriously. We are always required to give God what He is due including our thankfulness. Everyone can make the decision to give thanks and acknowledge the goodness of God
2. Gratitude keeps our focus on God (and off ourselves)
His thanksgiving was not based on what they were doing for God, but on what God did for them.
When we develop a habit of gratitude, we are constantly asking two questions: “For what should I be grateful?” and “To whom do I owe thanks?” The more we express our gratitude the more our eyes are opened to the benevolence of God and His generosity in bestowing us with goodness and blessings. When we see how much we owe to God it helps to reduce our own self-centeredness.
3. The blessing of having enough.
When we focus on ourselves, we lose the opportunity for God to use us. Every person can come up with a list of things they would like to have (and there is nothing wrong with owning things if the things don’t own us). If we are honest in our assessment, we would have to say that we have far more than most people in the world, and more than we must have to live. The reality of our lives is that we do have enough— we simply need to be content with what God has provided and thank Him for it. How often do we focus on what we can get or how to provide for ourselves without thinking of those less fortunate than us? Yet, many times we can pass by others without stopping to help.
When was the last time you helped the elderly? When was the last time you carved out time in your schedule to sit and listen to someone who's hurting? When was the last time you bought a meal for a family in financial trouble? Rather than always expecting to be showered with gifts, live your life giving of yourself to others. Thank God for what you already have and commit to focusing on others rather than yourself today.
When we ponder on all the good things we have because of God’s grace and rejoice in the Lord our hearts will erupt with gratitude. Gratitude heals our hearts. It displaces lethal complaining. It opens our eyes to the innumerable graces of God in our everyday lives. In our hurry through life we neglect gratitude. Rather than rushing off to the next thing, spend some time thanking Jesus for specific gifts in your life. Make a gratitude list.
Prayer, Heavenly Father, please forgive my shallow, immature, faith-choking ingratitude. You shower me with Your blessings, yet how rarely I stop to truly thank You. Thank You for all that You have done for me. Please replace my complaints with thanks. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus. It’s in His name I pray, amen.
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