Developing an Attitude of Gratitude
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
It was December of 1914 when Thomas Edison's factory in West Orange, New Jersey was destroyed by fire. The damage exceeded $2 million but the buildings were only insured for $238,000. Much of Edison's life work went up in flames. As the fire devoured years of labor, Edison's son Charles was searching frantically for his father. When he finally found him, he was surprised to see Edison watching the impending destruction with a distinct calmness about him.
“My heart ached for him,” said Charles. “He was 67—no longer a young man—and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, “Charles, where’s your mother?” When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ‘Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.’”
The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” Thomas Edison used thankfulness to gain the victory over the disaster in his life.
Thankfulness is a theme that appears all throughout the Bible. In fact, the word “thanks” appears over 150 times just in the Old Testament. Scripture tells us about a direct link between a spirit of gratitude and victory in the Christian journey.
Consider how thanksgiving is linked with victory in the following two verses.
Gratitude and victory linked together:
Gratitude and triumph linked together:
Gratitude, a product of victory and triumph, comes in several forms. You can thank the Lord with your lips or you can thank the Lord through your prayers. But did you know that you can thank the Lord by how you treat others? Jesus says that when we feed the hungry, take in a stranger, provide somebody with clothing, or visit the sick, we are really doing that to Him. “Assuredly,” Jesus says, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40.
If we want to show our gratitude to God, we should look for opportunities to bless people around us. One way to do this is by saying a quick prayer asking God “Lord, show me somebody who needs a blessing today.” Every day we can find reasons to complain and be ungrateful. But God can give us victory over the negative, self-pitying thoughts that want to take over. A spirit of thanksgiving should be apparent in everybody who knows Jesus Christ. There are five principles demonstrating thanksgiving as evidence that God is working in us.
1. Thanksgiving comes from receiving the Spirit of God.
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:18-21
Being filled with the Spirit brings joy to your life and allows you to be an uplifting influence to those around you. Being thankful is a sign that you have received the Spirit of God. When you have thanksgiving in your heart you are filled with the Spirit and are ready to share it with others.
2. Thanksgiving comes from commitment to the word of God.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:16-17
Thanksgiving is the result of being committed to the word of God. A Spirit-filled person is a Scripture-filled person. When you spend Spirit-filled time reading the Bible you will come away thankful.
Have you ever been around somebody who's positive attitude is simply contagious? Something makes you want to be around them. British preacher R. E. O. White observed: "The surest sign that you are carrying a full bucket is wet feet." This is also true with our lives. When they are full, our lives will overflow with whatever they are filled with and it will show. When the bucket of our lives is filled by the word of God, the Spirit of God overflows around us. You will become a contagious Christian whose positive attitude and willingness to serve spills over onto those around you.
3. Thanksgiving comes from the peace of God.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
The Apostle Paul was known for frequently praising God. Almost everywhere Paul talked about peace he did so within the context of thanksgiving. To have an overflowing spirit of gratitude we need to be like Paul, always reflecting on what Christ has done for us.
One of the most amazing things about the apostle Paul is how grateful he was in the face of hardship. In 2 Corinthians 11 we find that Paul was in prison often, was beaten, near death, shipwrecked... yet this is the same guy who said "in everything give thanks." If Paul could be thankful with the stresses of his life, there isn't any reason we can't be.
Imagine you are out at sea and you fall overboard. The water is choppy and you feel yourself being pulled under. Just then, somebody throws you a rope. Just before losing consciousness you begin coughing out water. Finally, you catch your breath, sit up, and shout “Did you see the way I caught that rope? I was all over that thing! What a catch!” Of course, people would look at you as if you were totally crazy. Nobody would ever say that simply because they would be consumed with thankfulness towards the one who saved their life. They would be so busy thanking and embracing them, asking them their name, finding out who they are, offering to buy them dinner, that they would lose sight of themselves.
Gratitude is the natural response to salvation. It doesn't require coercion or encouragement. Gratitude will flow organically and abundantly from your heart to the extent that you understand what God has done in your life. God wants His people to be a thankful people. When a person is characterized by peace, it's because the Spirit of God is working in them (Galatians 5:22).
4. Thanksgiving comes when you pray consistently.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6
This verse describes all kinds of prayers, but only one kind of response... thanksgiving. Never leave thanksgiving out of your prayer. Thanksgiving is to be the spirit and attitude of all our prayers. However we pray, it is always to be undergirded by a spirit of gratitude towards God. Whether you are making a request to God or praising God, all should be mixed and blended together with thanksgiving for what He has done.
5. Thanksgiving comes from the will of God.
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
You don't have to guess what God's will is for your life. In Romans 1:21-22, Paul describes a culture that rejects God. Their lack of gratitude is part of their unraveling. Unfortunately, we see the same thing happening around us today. People who expect things feel a sense of entitlement and become ungrateful. In 2 Timothy 3:1-2, Paul said that the world would be full of these people in the last days. Gods will concerning thanksgiving is clear. He wants us to give thanks in everything.
When you are filled with gratefulness you will act, feel and talk differently. Don't allow the mind to produce products of ingratitude, always dwelling on the negative rather than the positive. Make a choice today. Begin doing what scripture says by expressing gratitude to God through ministering to others. “Assuredly,” Jesus says, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” And remember, for everything negative in your life there are at least ten positives. You just have to be willing to find them and give thanks to God.