Gratitude seems to be a boundary marker for our lives. An attitude of gratitude seems to color everything in our world. Kindness, grace, peace, and a sense of calm are just a few of the attributes that are evident in the lives of people who exercise gratitude. The Bible is filled with passages that lead us in this direction as well:
Psalm 7:17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
Psalm 9:1 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 100:4-5 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
The basic definition of the word gratitude is: “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
My observation over the years is that being grateful will either become a habit or being ungrateful which then seems to develop a negative, ungrateful and critical attitude will become a habit.
How can we develop an “attitude of gratitude and keep from becoming bitter in our spirit?”
- Start your day by giving thanks to God!
- End your day by giving thanks to God!
- Encourage someone every day. You will have to intentional. Send a note, email, text, or call someone every day and let them know how much you appreciate them.
- Start a gratitude jar! All you need is a container; any container will do. Each day write at least one thing you are thankful for and write it down and place it in the “gratitude jar.”
- Be Thankful for who you are and where you are today!
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Turn off the media and read the Bible!
- Make a note of the way the people in your life talk and make sure to develop positive relationships.
- Get a good night’s sleep!
- Say Thank you to God and others, and do this often!
- Remember, despite the hardships you have endured, you have much for which to be thankful!
- Develop empathy!
- Remember, always remember that God gives us much more than we deserve!
The story is told in Luke 17 of ten lepers who came to Jesus to be cleansed from their disease. All ten were healed. The interesting part of the story isn’t the healing, it is that only one came back to say thank you! Surely all ten were grateful, thankful, and blessed. Yet, only one came back to say ‘thank you for healing me.’ I am wondering if the ratio is about the same today? If only ten percent of people express gratitude and thanks to Jesus, it seems that this is an area for improvement in all of our lives.
Praise, thanksgiving, and expressions of love for God and others only happens when we are aware of our need to do this and do this daily. One huge side benefit of being thankful is that almost immediately, I can see the difference it makes in my spirit and attitude. After expressing appreciation, I feel better about myself. I feel more contented and more settled in my mind and heart. There is a sense that when I praise and thank God and then give encouragement and appreciation to others, I experience a sense of peace and, might I say, tranquility. Truly the Scripture is correct “It is better to give than to receive.” A side benefit is that as I give, I too receive. A life focused on God and others is far more desirable than a life of self-absorbed complaining and grousing.
Make sure today that you are not one who receives a blessing and goes on your way, stop and go back and give thanks to the Lord and then follow it up with some encouragement to your fellow life travelers.