We have much to be thankful for, but being a truly thankful Christian goes beyond words. We may acknowledge our thanks in prayer. We may sing hymns of thanksgiving. We may post online about our thankfulness to God for all of His blessings, but words are empty without actions to back them up. If we are truly grateful to our God, then we will live lives that reflect gratitude and contentment.
Unfortunately, many influences around us teach us ingratitude – whether we’re talking about marketers who want us to look for the Next Big Thing™ or personalities who will panic us about the failing dollar and how we should be investing in gold; whether it’s the one teaching us to hate those more fortunate than us or those who instill spitefulness in us toward those who rely on our generosity. We must put aside much if we are to truly live gratefully.
In Colossians 3:12-17, Paul writes:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The grateful life is one typified by humility, by kindness, by patience with others. It is a life that seeks after Christ’s teachings rather than that of man. It is a life of praise rather than a life of self-centeredness. Take a minute and think about all God has done for you. Most of the time, when we are feeling discontented, it comes down to money. Where is my money going? How can I get and keep more? Who deserves to receive my money? How much money will I have in the future? We grumble about the hopelessness of this world. Grateful living, however, sets that aside.
Jesus, in Matthew 6:31-33, reminds us:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
God never promises us a fair life. He never promises us a luxurious life. He never even promises us an easy life, but, if we take a moment to count them, we’ll see our lives are full of blessings. If we can acknowledge that, we have to put aside anything that would make us live ungratefully in the face of those blessings. We have to stop worrying so much about secular matters. We have to stop worrying about who is and is not deserving of our mercy, for would any of us be saved if God demonstrated the same mercy we do? It’s easy to let worldly definitions of fairness and justice cloud our gratefulness, but we can rise above that.
Our God does so much for us, and He has given us a hope beyond anything this world can offer. Let’s resolve then, as we set aside time to reflect on all we should be thankful for, to live lives reflecting that hope and that gratitude. When others see us, they should see a people unaffected (or, at least, minimally affected) by the trials of this world. They should see a people reaching for something better, and that hope will be evident in our lives when we learn to live our gratitude day by day.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.