Attitude of Gratitude

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I believe one of the most important characteristics that a Christian must live out in their life is gratitude.  It is a key component to a healthy Christian life and must be present in our lives if we are going to live out the fruits of the Spirit.  Gratitude in Websters’ Dictionary is defined as “the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.

Jesus seems to up the ante when He tells His followers to “love your enemies”.  I suggest to you that we are also to return kindness even when someone may inflict us with evil.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests by made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When we pray with thanksgiving our hearts and minds are guarded.  Having gratitude protects our minds and hearts from faulty, false thinking.  We will have a biblical perspective when difficult circumstances enter our lives.

Romans Chapter 1 shows us what happens when we are not grateful.  Romans 1:21 says, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” 

Note that this verse is the opposite of Philippians 4:6-7.  Paul tells us that those who are not thankful become futile in their speculations (mind) and their heart becomes darkened.  Ingratitude exposes our hearts and minds to darkness and deceit.

Ingratitude is a relationship killer.  I would suggest to you that the divorce rate is so high in our society and even in the Church because people are not thankful.

Let me give you an illustration of how this can work in relationships. Bob and Sue start dating, and they want to spend every waking moment together.  Their relationship is fresh and either person can do no wrong.  They realize they must spend the rest of their lives together and they eventually get married.  Then one day several years go by and Bob starts to get annoyed with Sue.  Seeds of ingratitude start to enter his mind.  They start to grow and fester over time and bitterness sets in.  Eventually his heart and mind continue to darken to the point that he now believes he can divorce Sue for an unbiblical reason because he is so deceived and darkened in his thinking.

I remember being taught this over 20 years ago at a men’s retreat.  A week later I was at home and my wife did something to make me very angry.  I remember standing in the kitchen and remembering the teaching I had just heard.  I spent the next several minutes thanking God for my wife and all her wonderful characteristics.  Like letting air out of a full balloon my anger dissipated and my attitude was completely changed.  It was a life changing moment!

I realized that my circumstance was not the issue, but my attitude was the issue.  If we see people from a biblical perspective, we never have a problem with another person.  The problem always lies with us. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.  Living out this truth will free you up in your relationships and keep you from making destructive decisions.

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