How often does ungratefulness plague the world we live in? Whether discontentment, unmet expectations, difficult seasons, or a sheer lack of acknowledgment of God's blessings, these scenarios can all encourage a lack of gratitude. When we lack gratitude, we become blind to all the ways God has continually and bountifully provided for us, and we miss the opportunity to celebrate His work in our hearts and lives.
So how can we be more grateful? The importance of gratitude can sometimes be evoked when something reminds us of how grateful we should be. Maybe it happens when we are gathering around the table with food and family during the holidays. Maybe it happens after volunteering with an organization that serves the underprivileged. Maybe it happens after getting a job or receiving a generous gift. Or it might even happen after someone gives us an incredibly generous and undeserved gift. There are a number of things that can occur and leave us feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude. But true and lasting gratitude is not temporal or based on circumstances. It is rooted in the heart.
We grow in gratitude by living in light of God's gracious gift, meditating on the truth and comfort it brings, and offering it to all who will receive it. Here are a few practical ways:
Meditate on the Truth of the Gospel
True gratitude is born out of an overflow of the knowledge of what has been given to us through salvation in Jesus Christ. We are sinners, unable to save ourselves and deserving of God's wrath, yet Jesus gave us the gift of His righteousness and paid the penalty of our sin on the cross. This should astound us and humble us. We could never earn such a gift! If we never received anything else in this lifetime but the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, we have been given more than enough.
Prayers of Thanksgiving
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Prayers of thanksgiving ready our hearts to receive God's gifts with gratitude. Each day, we can take moments to pause in prayer and acknowledge the many ways God provides for and cares for us. The more we thank God in prayer, the more we realize how much He has truly given us.
There is great importance to noticing and naming God's gifts. It can be so easy to go through our days, weeks, years even, without making time to take notice of God's gifts. He is doing a million little things in our lives at every given moment, and even if we can't see all of them right now, we will see traces of them in time. By noticing them, we can see God at work right now, and by writing them down, we can see God's faithfulness and provision in our lives. As we see God's care, our hearts are stirred in gratitude for His kindness to us. Keeping a journal is a small way we can remind ourselves when we are so prone to forget.
Celebrating God's Blessings to Others
One thing that can easily deter us from gratitude is comparison or jealousy. Comparing ourselves to others can plant seeds of bitterness and discontentment. It can also hinder us from celebrating God's provision in the life of others. But when we acknowledge God's blessings in the lives of others, we encourage them to look to the Lord in gratitude. We celebrate the goodness of God not only in our own lives but in the life of everyone. We are provided the opportunity to celebrate God's grand display of work in the lives of His people instead of only celebrating what He accomplishes for us in a personal way. Sending an encouraging text, pointing out God's graces for someone in a difficult season, and sharing in the joy of good ways are all ways this can be practically implemented. It broadens our view and understanding of gratitude and postures our hearts in humble praise of God for all He has done.
Sharing God's Blessings
As we notice, name, and praise God for His many blessings in our own lives and the life of others, we are left with a testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness. And we can testify to God's blessings by sharing our experiences with others. When we tell the stories of God's tangible blessings in our lives, we exude a grateful heart. And we encourage others to find long-lasting gratitude through a loving and eternal relationship with God through salvation in Jesus Christ.
As the holidays approach, may we go beyond a temporal proclamation of how grateful we are and instead be challenged and encouraged to grow in cultivating a heart of gratitude all year long.