Imagine for a minute that you’re invited to a birthday party of one of your classmates. You want to buy just the right gift, so you find out everything that you can about this person in order to know what kind of gift to buy. You discover that this kid loves a certain musical group. You go online and order a limited edition book about them complete with colored photos and words to their music. It’s costly and a lot of trouble, but you do it anyway. The day of the party arrives, and you proudly present your gift. To your amazement the gift is opened and tossed to the side without so much as a thank you. How would you feel?
What is gratitude? Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness or being grateful for something. It generally leads you to express that feeling of gratitude. If you are invited to a birthday party, you usually express gratitude by honoring that person with a gift. The person who receives the gift expresses to you how much they appreciate you thinking of them. It’s a good thing to feel and express gratitude. Without gratitude, there would be no joy. Somehow the two emotions go together.
What does the Bible say about gratitude? King David wrote, "It is good to say thank you to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods. Every morning tell him, ‘Thank you for Your kindness,’ and every evening rejoice in all His faithfulness" (Psalm 92:1-2, TLB). This text tells us that gratitude is good and should be expressed to God at least twice a day.
How should I express gratitude? David must have been a great musician because he writes over and over in the Psalms to sing or make a joyful noise to God (Psalm 95:1). He also writes that we should “bow down in worship” (Psalm 95:6). There are many ways to express gratitude. Prayer is a great way to express gratitude. Telling others about Him is another way that lets God know that we appreciate His loving kindness. David wrote his praises to God in poetry. Journaling would be a similar method. There is something about expressing gratitude that makes it more real and personal in your heart.
What should I express gratitude for? The automatic penalty for sin is death. It’s in the Bible, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23, TLB). Everybody has sinned by breaking the law of God – but Jesus loved us so much that He chose to die in our place. The Bible says, “We were brought back to God through the death of His Son, what blessings he must have for us now that we are his friends, and he is living within us!” (Romans 5:10, TLB). Salvation, love, peace, hope and life eternal are just a few of God’s blessing that we should express gratitude for.
But what if I don’t feel it? There is an old song that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” It’s really a good idea to make yourself think about what is good in your life. Everyone has something to be thankful for even if it is the very air we breathe. In giving thanks to God it reminds us where our blessings come from. "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” (Psalms 103:2, NIV).
What about the people who have nothing? It’s in the Bible "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thessalonians 5:18, NIV). Note: The Bible is not saying that it is God’s will that you have nothing. It is saying that it is His desire that you praise Him in all circumstances. It is His will that you express praise for what you do have.
What happens if I refuse? Paul tells the sad story of some who knew about God but refused to give thanks or worship Him.”Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened…they became fools” (Romans 1:21, 22, KJV). By not acknowledging God, you lose God. Open communication is a must in any relationship whether it is with people or with God.
If you owed a lot of money and a friend paid your bill, wouldn’t you feel gratitude? Jesus did even more. He died in our place. I can never repay Jesus for the sacrifice He made in giving His life for me – but I can take the time to express my gratitude for that gift. Gratitude is a natural response from the heart of someone who loves God. If you don’t have that love, ask God to put the love in your heart. Invite Him to come in and fill you with love, joy and yes, gratitude.