How is your life characterized? Are you known as one who is grateful for the mercies that you have been given from God? Is there a spirit of gratitude in your life? Or is it a spirit of bitterness? Is it a spirit of ingratitude? What characterizes your life? Do you long for a spirit of godly contentment and cheerful gratitude unto the Lord?
This past year has been a heart-searching time for all of us. Sin that at one time laid quietly underneath the surface has now been exposed. Sadly, during this season, I have seen my own heart wander towards ingratitude rather than gratitude. I have seen the wickedness of my own sin found in my ongoing grumbling and complaining about present circumstances. One lesson that I have learned during this season is the danger of ingratitude. In Judges 8:34, The Israelites did not remember the LORD, their God who had delivered them from the enemies’ power around them.
In Romans 1:21, the apostle Paul tells us the consequences of not honoring and giving thanks to God: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Do you see the consequence, or end result, of not honoring the Lord and showing gratitude towards Him? The apostle Paul tells us that a lack of gratitude leads to futile thinking and darkened hearts if left unchecked. Well, that means that we must take this seriously. Brethren, as a spiritual discipline, we must cultivate grateful hearts. Do you want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord (2 Peter 3:18)? Yes! Then, let’s consider how we can practice gratitude. In this article, I want to give you two ways to practice gratitude.
Write a Gratitude Journal
As you read your Bible, especially as your read through the Psalter, you will find out very quickly that the Psalmist had a grateful heart. Sounding forth from the psalmists’ lips, we hear the song of praise and thanksgiving (Ps. 30:4; 69:30; 118:1; 145:10; 147:7). How did the Psalmist cultivate this grateful heart? Simple, by remembering what God had done for his soul. Do you want to cultivate a grateful heart? Well, brethren, remember what God has done for your soul. We, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, are debtors to mercy alone. We are blood-bought children of God. We have been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. We have been set free from the slavery of sin and brought into the household of God. We have been “ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven.” When we remember all of this, how can we not be grateful? We deserve wrath, but we have been lavished in mercy and grace!
Now, the evil one wants you to forget these truths. He wants you to forget about the power and glory of redeeming love. He wants you to cultivate a spirit of bitterness and ingratitude. Well, one way to fight against this is to prayerfully journal. Specifically, develop a ‘gratitude journal.’ Force yourself to write down one new thing each day that you are grateful for. This will help you cultivate a spirit of gratitude in your life. Through this discipline, you will see that everything you have in this life has been graciously given to you by God, and for that reason, you must be thankful (1 Cor. 4:7)! After a week or so, you will begin to feel how challenging it is to be grateful. As you progress in this discipline, you will soon be tempted to repeat your points. I urge you, do not to repeat any points! This practice will force you to write on your knees, crying out prayerfully, ‘Lord, forgive me of my ingratitude. Help me grow in gratitude!’
Determine Evidences of Grace
How do you relate to others? It is easy to be grateful for God’s work in your own life, but are you grateful for God’s work in the lives of others? What happens when you begin to see men or women “out-shine you” in gifts or talents? When that happens, and it will, are you prone to bitterness and jealousy? Or do you genuinely thank God for them? This is a real battle that we must walk circumspectly in. How do I relate to others? Do I have a spirit of gratitude towards my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
In seminary, a mentor of mine emphasized the necessary practice of identifying ‘evidences of grace’ in the lives of God’s people. How often do you celebrate God’s grace at work in the lives of his people? When you see a feeble and weak saint grow in their assurance, do you point out their growth to encourage them? When a brother gains victory over a particular sin, do you stop and praise God with him? This practice of determining ‘evidences of grace’ in God’s people is another means that helps us grow in gratitude. As you think about your local church and its members, think of how God is at work in their lives. Write one thing down for them, and then thank God!
Do you know that Paul practiced this discipline? In 1 Corinthians 1:4-5, Paul writes: “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and knowledge.” Do you remember how “messed up” the church in Corinth was? There was division, immorality, etc. Yet, the apostle Paul still took time to highlight an ‘evidence of grace’ in the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 1:4-5).
To conclude, do you want to know the will of God for your life? God’s will is that your heart would be marked with a spirit of gratitude for all that God has done in your life and the life of others. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Whatever season of life you are in right now, God’s call upon your life is to give thanks. Whatever providences we find ourselves under, we have much to thank God for. All we have received is mercy, grace, and love. Oh, may we thank God for His infinite grace towards us in and through our blessed Savior and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be all the glory.