May 27, 2021
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1-3)
What has your attitude been like these days? Has it been one of gratitude and thankfulness? Gratitude is not about our circumstances. It is a loving and thankful response toward God for His presence with us and within this world. Though blessings can move us into gratitude, that is not what is at the root of a thankful heart.
There are a several attitudes that hinder an attitude of gratitude in our lives. I’m going to mention three today. The first is the “never enough” attitude. If we’re not careful we can fall into the trap of thinking that our happiness is connected to what we have instead of who we are in Christ. This includes putting more value on the things in our lives rather than on our relationships with others and with God. We can combat this tendency by expressing gratitude to God for what we have. Through giving and sharing what we have with others, as an expression of our love of God and others and as a sign of our thankfulness to God for what He has graciously given us.
In this too are the gifts that God has given in our everyday, the breath in our lungs, the flowers and trees that are budding in vast arrays of colours and styles, the warm water on our hands as we wash them, the table and chairs that we sit at for meals that are a privilege to own. God’s abundance of gifts to us are given because of His mercies and His grace that He pours into our lives. Christ is our enough. “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9 ESV).
The second attitude is the “I deserve it” attitude. It’s easy to slip into this attitude especially in light of our current circumstances. Society teaches us from a young age that we should be able to get whatever we want, whenever we want it. This leads to ungrateful thoughts and behaviour because we believe that we are worthy of positions and titles and material items and we come to believe that we deserve only the best. This attitude however, is not a picture of what Christ died for. We are to receive what we have as a gift, not as an entitlement. We are worthy only because of the worth that has been bestowed on us by Christ. “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).
We are undeserving of Christ, yet we have great worth because of Christ. Let us display our gratitude to God for who we are in Christ! We will never be deserving enough for anything that we have, but in God’s love our worth is found. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The third attitude that hinders an attitude of gratitude is the “it’s all about me” attitude. My children used to watch a show about animated cars. In one episode a young car decides that the world revolves around him and gives himself the nickname “COTU” that is, “Centre of the Universe.” as he puts down a friend, drives through a freshly planted garden, knocks over a sign and eventually drives out of town looking for an old car who has been living his own way for years. After only a few minutes with the older car who spits and cusses and destroys property without thinking, the young car realizes how wrong his attitude was, and quickly drives back to town to right his wrongs and ask forgiveness from his friends.
Perhaps this sounds like only a silly children’s story, but it is often how we behave even as adults. We grumble that we can’t go into a physical store, but there are many in our city that cannot afford even food, no less the “non-essentials” that are in currently closed stores. Where has lack of gratitude crept into your life? Take it to God in prayer. He will train your heart in His ways if you ask Him. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (Psalm 32:8).
Start by thinking about, or better yet, writing a list of all of the people that you are thankful for in your life. Then, write one of them a note! There were lots of cards being sent out at the beginning of the pandemic and I remember pastor Anthony saying in a sermon last year, “Let’s become a card sending church!” Part of being thankful is letting those in our lives know that we are thankful for them and their contribution to our lives, whether large or small.
Gratitude is a thread that can bind our lives together through the messy days, happy days, seasons of sickness and difficulties. Gratitude is a response to God for His presence in our life and in the world. Gratitude draws us near to the heart of God our Creator and allows us to get a glimpse of how He sees each one of us--His image bearers, and His creation--astounding! Thanks be to God!