An attitude of gratitude
“I’ll be happy when I get _____” is a triple trap. For one, it keeps you miserable as you wait impatiently to be fulfilled. Second, wanting more never satisfies, even if you get your first wish, because you then want still more. Third, it cheats you out of the happiness with the wealth that you already possess.
Cultivating a thankful heart and thankful spirit are learned behaviors. You have to choose to be like that, because the attitude you’re born with is one of selfishness, greed, and discontent. By nature we feel cheated, envious of others, and sullen at our lot in life.
Jesus calls us to a better way. He opens our eyes to the gospel of our free and full forgiveness, given to us at the cost of his death. He opens our eyes to our new and wonderful relationship with our heavenly Father, source of all good gifts. He opens our eyes to the great wealth we already have–treasures of possessions, friends, and family. Best of all, he promises that we are not only forgiven but immortal.
The gospel makes us optimists. It also invites us to overhaul our attitudes daily to be in line with our new status in heaven. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” (MSG)
Do you get caught in the situational trap? I do. “I’ll be happy when…” I tend to fill the blank with “when I move out of my parents’ house” or “when I get married” or “when I have my degree and can do what I feel I have been called to do.”
What do you fill the blank with???
Thanksgiving means thanking one another too
Read Romans 16:3-4.
We are born, all of us, with GDD–Gratitude Deficit Disorder. The notion that everything good in our lives was given by a gracious God has to be revealed to us. Without that critically important information from the Bible, we would live in the delusion that we made everything ourselves, or worse, that we were at the mercy of the gods of luck.
Learning to say thank you to other people is also learned behavior. We see ingratitude in our children and work hard to teach them how to show appreciation. We make them write thank-you notes to their grandparents for birthday gifts. But let’s not assume that we grown-ups are totally healed. We can be terrible takers too.
St. Paul’s letters are masterpieces and models of GDD therapy. The opening words of each are full of praises and thanks to God. But the final verses usually carry his heartfelt words of appreciation to the people whose sacrifices, hard work, and passion made possible a community of faith (Romans 16:3-4).
How many people have you thanked this week? Does your church have a thanking culture? Does your spouse feel appreciated? Do the people you work with ever hear praise from you?
I think that no matter how much we thank, we always could be thankful more often. I know that I am guilty of not always being thankful.