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When I was young my mother and father were very particular about teaching me to say ‘thank you’. I was to say ‘thank you’ when the vegetables were passed my way and gifts always had to be responded to with a letter of thanks. What my parents were teaching me, well intentioned though they were, was not the importance of gratitude, but the importance of polite behavior. Saying ‘thank you’ when someone passes you the salt is not gratitude. Biblical gratitude is a spiritual discipline; it is a recognition that all good things come from God. Gratitude is not an option, it is an integral part of being a Christian, it is God’s will:
‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Gratitude helps us draw closer to God because gratitude teaches us to see God in all that is good.
‘Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.’ Philippians 4:8
Gratitude drives out Satan and leads to peace and contentment. King David understood this, the Book of Psalms returns again and again to the theme of gratitude.
‘I will bless the lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt his name together.’ Psalm 34:1-3
Gratitude is mentioned a 157 times in the Bible. Daniel gave thanks to the Lord, even though the state in which he lived ruled it illegal and he risked his life in doing so. Saint Paul dedicated his life to spreading the gospel, in gratitude for his salvation and Jesus taught us that gratitude to God is our Christian duty. Luke tells the story of how Jesus healed ten lepers but only on of them returned to thank Jesus.
‘And Jesus answering said, Were not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? They are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.’ Luke17: 17-19
How to develop the spiritual discipline of gratitude
Gratitude is a profound spiritual exercise, which requires the individual to see beyond the gift and appreciate the giver. Spiritual gratitude is not an exercise in self-congratulation – gee I’m so lucky, my kids are so clever and my house is so beautiful. True gratitude is an act of humility, it’s a focus on what you have, which frees you from the burden of always worrying about what you lack. One technique that you may find useful to help you develop the discipline of gratitude, is journaling, we offer a range of products to help you on your way. Build gratitude into your daily prayer routine and use your journal to help you map your spiritual journey. Seek God in all things and reflect on God’s handiwork in your life. Use your journal to reflect on His goodness, recognize His guidance and track your blessings. Your journal should be God focused, not self-focused and your gratitude should reflect past, present and future. Share your gratitude with others, for gratitude glorifies God.
‘And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.’ 2 Corinthians 4:15
Gratitude, spiritual gratitude, brings happiness and contentment, it helps us cope with adversity and it strengthens our relationships. Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness and a recognition that the source of all good, is God. Strive to have to have gratitude always at the forefront of your thoughts.
‘Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Ephesians 5: 20