The Scriptures are filled with examples of how to live a life of thankfulness. From Genesis to Revelation, we are admonished that the Christian life is marked by thanksgiving. It tends to be easier to be thankful this time of year, but what about when the holiday season is over? What about when trials of life come our way? How can we live a life of thanksgiving?
I want to highlight three quick reminders for how thankfulness can be a defining characteristic of a Christian (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Thankfulness is Intentional
I once heard a pastor say, “Is the life I’m living worth Christ dying?” No one mistakenly lives a life filled with gratitude. Throughout the pages of Scripture, believers are called to be thankful people. Yet, since the fall of Genesis 3, thankfulness is not a natural disposition for us. Instead, ingratitude becomes the norm, and thankfulness becomes unnatural. Paul says that a life of lacking thanks is a characteristic of those who don’t believe (Rom 1:21). In Luke 17, we learn the story of the ten lepers healed from this horrendous disease. As they were healed, only one returned in gratitude and praise over the miracle unfolding. Because of our natural state of being ungrateful, we see that thankfulness is an intentional effort.
The Pauline epistles are filled with a call to thankfulness.
Thankfulness is Reflective
It is difficult to be thankful if you don’t remember what to be thankful for. Therefore, we are to remind ourselves of the glory of God continually.
Ultimately, a low view of being thankful equals a low view of God. If we are to be thankful always, we are to look to God and see his hand working and surrender with a grateful heart to his sovereign plan for our lives. Scripture is filled with beautiful pictures of why we should reflect on who God is and what we should be thankful for. Let me share a few:
- He is Good: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:24)
- He is Holy: Sing praise to the Lord, You saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holy name” (Psalm 30:4)
- He does great things: “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.” (Psalm 75:1)
- He gives grace: “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 1:4)
Not only should we reflect on who God is, but we must also reflect on what God has done. Moment by moment, we are to be reminded of the reality of the cross. Through God sending His Son to live the perfect life and die a death he didn’t deserve, a way was paved for us to be in the right relationship with him. No longer do we stand condemned, but by the power of the blood, we stand clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
Each moment we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice, we lay our ingratitude at the foot of the cross, and in return, we are clothed with gratitude.
Thankfulness is Worth It
It is no secret that discontentment is running rampant in our culture. People are continually dissatisfied, ungrateful, and looking for something else. Rather than letting uneasiness rule our hearts, we should fill it with praise (Psalm 69:30). Thankfulness is the opposite of discontentment. It is thankfulness that fuels contentment. When we are satisfied in the Lord and praising Him, we are content in his presence regardless of our situation.
I have never met someone who regretted being thankful. One day, we will look back on our lives. We will see the pain, struggles, and temptations. With tears in our eyes, we will reflect on the grace of God that carried us through. So, Christian, rejoice always, find your thankfulness in the Lord, and press on.
Matt Duckett is the Associate Pastor of Discipleship of Metro East Baptist Church in Wichita, KS. Before serving Metro East, Matt served churches in Dallas and Kansas City. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wichita State University and a Master of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to his wife, Sarah, and they have one son, Owen. Matt’s passion in ministry is to see lives transformed by the life-changing message of the gospel.