I really appreciate people who live in the atmosphere of thanksgiving and are quick to express gratitude for not only the slightest benefit or blessing, but for every circumstance in life.
God’s will is for us to be appreciative of everything that comes our way, because He is orchestrating “all things” to work together for our good. The Apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). Let me suggest five reasons for expressing gratitude.
First of all, the Bible teaches gratitude. The Bible says, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (I Chronicles 16:34).
In Luke 10 we have the beautiful story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. One of the ten lepers was a Samaritan, so he was excluded from community life because he was a leper and because he was a Samaritan. Lepers were alienated from society and barred from fellowship with friends and family because of the stigma the disease carried.
Samaritans were ostracized from society, because they were considered partly Jewish and partly pagan. Because of their partly Gentile ancestry and because they worshipped in their temple in Mount Gerizim in Samaria rather than the Temple in Jerusalem, they were shunned by the Jews.
And yet, it was only the Samaritan who returned to express his gratitude to Jesus for healing him of his leprosy. By asking, “Where are the nine?” Jesus contrasts the difference between the one man who was grateful and the nine who apparently were churlish and ungrateful. This narrative teaches us the importance of being thankful.
The Psalm declared, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). So, the Bible teaches gratitude.
Second, thanksgiving cures an attitude of greed. Thankless people are rarely satisfied with what they have and always want more. Gratitude helps people focus on what they have instead of what they lack. Paul taught us to be grateful and exclaimed, “Not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
Some of the most thankful and contented people I have ever seen are people on the mission field in third world countries. They are not only among the most grateful people, but some of the most generous people on earth. I have been into the homes of Christian people in Korea, Moldova, Ukraine, Kenya, El Salvador, and other countries and in every case the people served us the very best meal they could afford and presented us with gifts as well.
In some cases, it became evident that those grateful, generous Christians gave gifts, objects, mementos that were precious to them. Their lifestyle and demeanor gave clear indication that people and relationships were more important to them than things or possessions. Their lives were marked not by greed, but gratitude and generosity.
Thirdly, thanksgiving brightens one’s life. In Philippians 4:6-13 the Apostle Paul assures us that if we refuse to be anxious and make our supplications known with thanksgiving, we will be empowered to live joyfully and redemptively.
Harvey B. Simon, editor of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, writes, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Fourth, gratitude makes us stronger. We are to give thanks for all things; and when we give thanks for our afflictions, they turn our hearts toward God, so He can refine us and mold us after the fashion of His will.
Charles Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church Atlanta, says, “Thanksgiving is a practice that we cannot afford to discard when the going gets tough. With gratitude comes a whole host of benefits – greater awareness of His presence, increased trust, joy, decreased anxiety – that energizes us when we feel beaten down. Combatting adversity is draining. Refuel with thanksgiving.”
Fifth, your gratitude blesses the benefactor. When you are faithful to express appreciation to those who have blessed you, given to you, prayed for you, helped you, it inspires them to continue to be a blessing wherever they go.
Gratitude inspires benevolence and goodwill. Thanklessness engenders a lack of concern and inactivity. Most of us enjoy helping people and giving to individuals who do not hesitate to express their gratitude. However, when you assist someone or provide for the need of an individual who fails to express thanksgiving it quenches your spirit.
You will find joy in making others happier and develop deeper relationships with those around you when you express gratitude for each other.
Try thanksgiving! Cicero, the Roman statesman, orator and philosopher, stated, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”