When you think of the word "gratitude," who comes to mind? We can all think of those people who radiate gratitude with a genuine heart. They are not fake, and they do not claim a trouble-free existence. They simply take whatever they are going through and remind others of God's goodness through the good and the bad seasons. Their gratitude can be contagious. But sadly, many believers are not always marked by this trait. We have the most to be thankful for, yet our lives do not display it.
Simply defined, gratitude is a state of thankfulness. It is easy to be thankful when life is exactly how we planned it. But what about those seasons when nothing is going as planned? What about when the bottom drops out and your job, health, or family are hurting or gone? In all things, the Word of God is our compass, and He will show us the path He longs for us to walk in gratitude.
A grateful spirit is not something we can cultivate on our own. A grateful spirit comes from the work of Christ in our hearts. Nothing in our spiritual walk is a step-by-step checklist. Wouldn't that be nice? But Scripture does give us timeless truths to show us how to grow in holiness and look more like Christ. Let's take a look at Colossians 2:6–7 today as our guide in this journey of gratitude. This passage says, "So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude."
So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord...
These two verses in Colossians end with the phrase, "overflowing with gratitude." We will never get to that result if we do not start with Jesus. Accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Because of Christ, we have gone from eternal death to eternal life. But He also promises us abundant life here on earth (John 10:10). Grateful, joyful, abundant life only comes through a relationship with Jesus. This does not mean we will not have suffering in this life. In fact, Jesus promised it in John 16:33 when He said, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world." Though He promised suffering, He showed us how to be grateful in it–we can be courageous because He has conquered the world! In every sorrow and difficulty, we can be grateful for our Savior, who holds us in the palm of His hands.
...continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith...
Your gratitude will only grow as much as your walk with Christ does. The more you know and love Jesus, the more you will be grateful for even the hardships in life because they will draw you closer to Him. To walk in Christ, being rooted in and established in faith requires the practices listed in Colossians 3:16 which reads, "Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." Believers must be in the Word, they must be in community with other believers, and they must do everything for His glory. As we grow in these things, our hearts will overflow with gratitude for the gift of salvation and a relationship with God almighty.
...overflowing with gratitude.
If we have truly been redeemed and saved by the blood of Christ and we are walking with Him daily, our hearts should radiate gratitude for what he has done for us. But in those moments of grief and pain, when we find it hard to be grateful, think of these verses in John 17. Jesus is about to be betrayed by Judas and go to the cross, and He takes time to pray for us. Let that sink in. Jesus prayed for us long before we were ever born. In His darkest hour, He prayed to the Father on our behalf. In John 17:22–23, He prays, "I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me." Believers are now one with Christ. We get to experience the presence of the Lord each and every day. And we have the hope of dwelling with him face to face in eternity (Revelation 21:3). That alone is worth all the gratitude in the world.
When we boil it all down, it is not hard to see that loving Jesus with your whole heart is what produces gratitude. Think again of that person who is always grateful. What does their walk with the Lord look like? Gratitude overflows from a heart sold out to Christ. When we love Jesus with our whole being, we cannot help but live with a thankful heart that seeks to worship our Savior in all we do. No matter what trials we face or triumphs we experience, may our hearts be sold out to Him and radiate gratitude for our salvation.