This time of the year, it’s appropriate to give thanks, to express gratitude. I think we all are aware that it’s not primarily about what you have but expressing gratitude for what you do have. And so, in the spirit, of this time of year, here are a few thoughts to ruminate on about gratitude.
First, expressing thanks is not only a command (there are 45 separate commands to give thanks in the Psalms) but it’s a virtue, a internal character trait that helps a person do well in life. If you doubt that then look at people who simply gripe about everything. Exactly… being around people like that gets incredibly draining. So gratitude is something that we should cultivate in our lives all year round and not just one part of the year.
Second, and maybe this is intuitive, gratitude is something that is directed toward someone outside of yourself. Who wakes up on Thanksgiving and says, “Man, I’m so grateful to me!!” This is called “pride” and it’s epidemic in our culture that wants us to believe that we are the source of everything good. You see, pride is not only the opposite of humility/honesty but it destroys any sense of gratitude. A quick test… if you’re not grateful for much then you filled with more of yourself than you realize.
Third, gratitude is cultivated by a sense that the gift is not deserved and it feels like it comes out of nowhere. Have you noticed when you receive a gift you aren’t “wowed” with yet you offer the obligatory “thank you”? That’s not really gratitude. Contrast that with when you are given something by another that is undeserved and it feels like it is so big that it comes out of nowhere. What I’m getting at is the difference in response from my children when for Christmas they receive clothes and when they receive a new GameCube (that’s a true story)!
If t his is true then you can tell how spoiled a person is not by how much they have but their heart attitude toward what they do have. Spoiled people are bored, wanting more and never pleased with their current circumstances. No matter how talented you are or how much you have, if you cease to be grateful you will always feel like there is something lacking in your life, like you are never complete.
One of the greatest tasks then in our life is to cultivate a heart that is truly grateful not just for the “stuff” that we have but more importantly to God who has given us life itself. All that we have is a gift from God (James 1:17)! This is our response to God who has given us all good gifts, demonstrated by His ultimately giving us His Son. May He awaken all of our hearts to gratitude on t his holiday where it’s appropriate to give thanks!