I will give thanks … — Psalm 7:17
Each year we’re reminded of a very important part of life — of something that should be deeply ingrained in our character — the value of gratitude.
The Bible is full of exhortations to give thanks — to God and people — for the blessings and gifts given to us.
Why does the Bible put so much emphasis on thanks? Because gratitude, or the lack of it, says a lot about us. Grateful people have developed a very important quality that not only blesses God and others, but serves them well too. An attitude of gratitude brings some great benefits to us.
What does gratitude do for you? Why is it good to give thanks?
1. Gratitude changes perspective.
Perspective is the way we look at life and people. It’s the lens through which we view our world. By nature (our sinful nature), we easily and quickly allow our perspective on life to be skewed, tainted, darkened, soured and consumed by our personal struggles and stresses. We tend to highlight the lacks and losses in our lives.
When gratitude is introduced it demands something from us. It pushes us to look past our lack and losses to see gifts and gains. Gratitude forces us to focus on the good. It radically adjusts the “lens” of perspective to a more realistic view — a view that includes the incredible blessings we have received that are not always obvious to us. With this adjustment of perspective comes a fresh joy, a new hope, an awareness that, notwithstanding whatever struggles and stresses may be a part of our lives, the truth is, we’re blessed!
Be grateful! Why? It changes your perspective.
2. Gratitude helps confront and conquer worry and fear.
Worry and fear are two of the biggest bullies in life. These two attackers shackle, chain and imprison us. They paralyze us from productive actions and blind us to potential opportunities.
One of the most repeated commands given to us by God in Scripture is: “Don’t be afraid!” — “Fear not!” Jesus, during His ministry, instructed us with the command– “Don’t worry!”
How do we successfully combat worry and fear?
We might answer, “through faith and trust!” — and this answer is correct. But I would offer you another weapon — another Bible way of fighting fear and worry — GRATITUDE!
All through the Old Testament we find God instructing His people to build memorials. These memorials reminded them of God's awesome power and love, and of the great miracles He had performed for them. They were prompters for praise. Every time the Israelites saw one, they were to remind themselves and their children of God's gracious interventions in the past.
But gazing on these memorials was meant to be more than a “happy stroll down memory lane.” These memorials had a contemporary purpose. They were designed to give God's people faith and hope in facing their current trials. They were meant to be a reminder of God's continual watchcare and readiness to help — a reminder that gave them comfort, courage and peace for the present. As they expressed their gratitude to God for His past works, they were to find strength and assurance for their present and future challenges. Their thanksgiving was a spiritual weapon that could and would drive out worry and fear!
Be grateful! Why? It helps you conquer worry and fear!
3. Gratitude grows grace.
One of the greatest qualities a person can possess is graciousness. People with grace — people who are gracious — are a pleasure to be around. They see the best in others and work to bring out the best in others. To be called “gracious” is one of the highest expressions of praise that can be given.
Gratitude actually grows our grace — it makes us more gracious. How? By focusing our attention on the graciousness of God and others to us.
To be grateful you have to think about all the wonderful things God has done for you, and the grace He has shown you. To be grateful you have to think about all the gracious things others have done for you also. Your awareness of the grace of God and the graciousness of others inspires you to be and do the same. It encourages you to become a bigger, better, more gracious person. It provides you with an example to emulate. When you think about how good God has been to you, and how good others have been to you, you become more motivated to model the same attitudes and actions with others.
Be grateful! Why? Gratitude lifts you to higher places of grace and graciousness.
4. Gratitude confronts and curtails pride.
Pride — the self-focused and self-centered kind of pride — is ugly and destructive. It is severely condemned by God. He says that He resists people who have it. He lists it as one of the things He hates!
The monster of pride resides in every human heart because pride is a root sin! Many others sins find their origin in pride.
How do we get rid of this horrible enemy? How do we root out this root problem of pride in our soul?
Gratitude! It’s not the only way, but it certainly is one way! Humility is a requirement for true gratitude.!
Real gratitude requires the acknowledgment and appreciation of what others have done for you. Gratitude, by its very nature, calls you to get your eyes off of yourself and on to God and others. It forces you to think about the contributions others have made in your life, apart from which you would not have what you have, be who you are, or have the opportunities you have. It reminds you that your view of life and the world is better because someone has offered their shoulders for you to stand on. You're experiencing blessings in your life because others have made them possible for you!
Gratitude — practiced sincerely and regularly — confronts and curtails pride. Curtail is an important word. The original meaning of the term described the process of cutting off and removing an animal’s tail. It is the cutting away of something unnecessary. A very appropriate term for what God wants to do to our pride!
Be grateful! Why? It confronts our pride and helps us get rid of it.
5. Gratitude improves the quality of relationships.
More relationships die of neglect than by abuse. We all have the tendency to take people for granted. The most common way we do this is by not noticing the value and blessings they bring to us, or by failing to express our gratitude to them.
Remembering to say, “thank you” to people in our lives keeps us focused on the real value they add. It makes us appreciate them more. Expressing appreciation to others is powerful. With only rare exceptions, communicating appreciation and gratitude to others, consistently and sincerely, makes relationships stronger.
Be grateful! Why? It builds your relationships.
Gratitude is beneficial, not only to others, but to us. It will make you a better person. It will give you a better life. It's good to give thanks!