Culture of Gratitude
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and maybe you’ve noticed, as I have, that around the holidays, people tend to be a lot more thankful. We hear people being thankful for their jobs, their family, their home, their friends, and a bunch of other really good things the Lord has given them. It’s great to be thankful for those things and Thanksgiving is a great time to display your thankfulness. But there is something I have been challenged on recently: I don’t want to be a person who just goes through seasons of gratitude.
Our church body just finished our series on 1 Thessalonians, and as we wrapped up this letter, some of Paul’s final instructions really challenged me:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Think about that. Part of God’s will for your life is for you to give thanks to Him in every circumstance. And when you fail to give thanks to God, you are actually missing out on part of what he has for your life. Reading that was a gut punch, because I can be really spotty in my thankfulness. I think, “It’s Thanksgiving, so I guess I’ll be thankful now.” or, “Work, marriage, and life seems to be going well, so I can be thankful now.” But then Thanksgiving passes and so does my thankfulness. Work gets harder. Marriage gets more difficult. My car needs fixed. All these things start happening and my gratitude gradually fades.
The root of the problem is that I base my gratitude on my circumstances. I determine my thankfulness by my quality of life. But that’s not how scripture talks about thankfulness. That’s not how we are commanded to be grateful. Our gratitude isn’t supposed to be based on feelings, physical circumstances, or other people. When we base our gratitude on those things, it’s impossible to be thankful in all circumstances and we will be people who go through seasons of gratitude and ultimately don’t take hold completely of God’s will for us.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we based our gratitude on the character of God and the work of God happening in us and through us? What would change if thanksgiving and gratitude wasn’t a season we went through but a culture we cultivated all the time, or if we were a people who – even when life was hard, challenging, and hurtful – looked to God’s grace and kindness and love for us? What about if we were people who constantly viewed our circumstances in light of our inheritance to come as children of God? Then we would be people who hoped fully in God, rejoiced always, prayed constantly, and gave thanks in all circumstances. We would be a place where thankfulness wasn’t just a season we walked through but a culture we cultivated.
So this Thanksgiving, celebrate with family, friends, and loved ones. Be thankful! But don’t let it just be this week or this season. May we be people who develop and live out a culture of gratitude all year and in all circumstances.
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