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An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

1 Thessalonians 5:18(NLT) - Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the US. Regardless of the questionable history of the occasion itself, it has become a day for family, fellowship, food and most importantly, gratitude. Why is it so important to be thankful? For Christians the answer is simple. It's the Will of God. That's right! It is God's Will for those of us who belong to Christ Jesus to be thankful in all circumstances. What does that mean? God expects us to do more than just respond naturally to circumstances. If that was the case, He would accept thankfulness and gratitude when things are good but complaining and murmuring when things are bad because that's natural. He wants us to go beyond our natural tendencies to respond to circumstances and proactively decide to be thankful in spite of our circumstances.

Colossians 4:2(AMP) - Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is an attitude which means it is a choice. It's not just any choice, it's a very important one. Everyday, you can choose to be thankful for what you have or choose to complain about what you don't. You can choose to be thankful for what is going right or choose to complain about what's going wrong. It's all about perspective. For example, if a glass has water up to its halfway point, some would say a pessimist sees the glass as half-empty and an optimist sees the glass as half-full. May I suggest one more.

A thankful person is grateful to have water in the glass in the first place especially if that person knows what it is like to have an empty glass and be thirsty. That's the attitude God wants us to have. Yet, that's not even what Colossians 4:2 is all about. In that scripture, Apostle Paul emphasizes the important role that an attitude of thankfulness has to our prayer life. He said that not only must we be persistent and devoted to prayer, alert and focused in our prayer life, we must do it with an attitude of thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

This is a popular scripture that demonstrates the power of prayer. Instead of being anxious and uneasy about anything in life, we must take everything to God in prayer. However, that's not all. There's a small detail we can't overlook. We must do it with thanksgiving. Don't just pray, but pray with thanksgiving. Since we know now that thankfulness is God's Will, it should not be that hard to understand why He wants us to be thankful when we pray. If we're going to ask God to do something for us, the least we could do is be appreciative of who He is and thankful for what He has already done. Only then, can we access the supernatural peace which comes from God to guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus from doubt, fear and confusion.

Luke 17:11-19(NKJV) - Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Ten men cried out to Jesus for deliverance from leprosy and all ten men received their healing. Without question, they must all have been extremely happy about what they received from Jesus. Yet, only one thought about saying thank you. What's the difference? Nine of them only cared about what Jesus could do for them while one cared about Jesus. Though similar, those two perspectives are quite distinctive and Jesus took notice. First, he asked for the rest of the men who were healed. Jesus then made a prophetic pronouncement over the one who returned to give God glory.

Jesus knew that leprosy was not the only problem he had to deal with. Years of leprosy caused the men to be outcasts from society, potentially costing them their livelihood, family, assets and even their good name. So while nine men only received healing from leprosy, the one man who chose to be thankful received wholeness in every area of his life. If that wasn't worth a simple thank you, I don't know what is. Yet, it's still not simple enough for some people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5(AMP) - But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.

These are the last days and many people are simply ungrateful. In some areas of Western society, there is so much prosperity and opportunity that there's a generation of people growing up who feel entitled. They feel like they deserve to get what they want. Life is just supposed to hand them the best just because they are human beings and for no other reason. Even worse, they want what they see others enjoying without considering the cost of earning it themselves. It's all part of our materialistic, greedy, self-centered culture. It's so hard to please people these days because regardless of what they have, they want more. Personal satisfaction and gratefulness to God is just too much to ask.

This passage of scripture put ungrateful people in the same category as people who are selfish, greedy, boastful, arrogant, unholy, profane, brutal, reckless, conceited and much more. How about that? I always thought that ungratefulness was bad but I didn't know it's that bad. Well, it is... It's so bad that the Apostle Paul says to avoid such people and keep far away from them. It sounds harsh but it's good advice. Ungrateful people are toxic and if you hang around them long enough they'll infect you with their ungratefulness and change your attitude to match their own. Hence, follow the advice of the scriptures and stay away from them.

Psalm 95:1-2(KJV) - O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

Psalm 100:4(NKJV) - Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

It's a good thing to be in God's presence. The scripture says in Psalm 16:11 that in God's presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand, unending pleasures. It also says in 2 Corinthians 3:17 that where the Spirit of The Lord is there is freedom. It then says in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, there He will be among them. Yet, what it says about God's presence in Psalms 95 and 100 should be considered alongside these other wonderful scriptures. If you want to enjoy the benefits of God's presence, come before His presence with thanksgiving! Don't show up complaining. Don't show up murmuring. Show up with praise and thanksgiving. He's done enough to deserve it! Gratitude is a choice, so choose it today.