As a rollercoaster holiday season approaches one word gets tossed around quite a bit… thankfulness. What does it mean to be thankful? How does one live life thankfully? Is it a natural response or a choice? What are we thankful for?
Often times we dumb down a life of thankfulness to simply giving “thanks.” When in reality it’s so much more… a life of thankfulness is a behavioral style, a thought pattern and mindset, an attitude, and a choice most of all.
Psalm 107:8-9 says,
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Being thankful is something that’s always within our control.
Nothing turns us into bitter dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. We see it all around us! We live in an ungrateful dissatisfied society and unfortunately that spirit has made its way in and is prevalent in our churches. Nothing robs us of the joy of Christ and our salvation faster than neglecting to recognize and be thankful for the things around us.
We see in Romans 1:21 that when humanity rebels we neglect to recognize and give thanks to God. It says,
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Have we forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything?
Let’s not be foolish or ungrateful. Let’s give thanks.
Below I will offer some thoughts and applications on how we can develop, maintain, and nurture a thankful heart which is then exhibited through a thankful lifestyle.
- Focus on Christ.
Psalm 103:1-6 says,
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
When we read this thankful Psalm it is necessary to notice that the first thing we must do is focus mind and heart on God! Looking at the passage we can see the priority that the Psalmist David places on recognizing that all we have to be thankful for comes from Christ. Everything within the Psalmist David, and hopefully us, should rejoice and say “Bless the Lord” first in all situations.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:19-20,
Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
James 1:17 says,
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Let’s open our eyes to the glory of God! But, if that alone isn’t enough to spark your flame just count up the numerous undeserved gifts God spreads before each of us every day!
- Remember how far we’ve been Brought.
This lengthy section out Psalms 107:13-32 recalls the numerous deliverances the Lord has provided His people,
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.
Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
We can also look into the Old Testament at the story of Moses and see how God used him to accomplish His task of delivering the Israelites out of Egypt. Even when Pharaoh and his army pursued they were crushed by the sea at the hand of God.
So… let me ask…
How has the Lord delivered you?
What is your testimony? What did the Lord bring you out of? We all have a story, because we are all undeserving of anything expect a sinful, pitiful life that ends with us being in Hell.
But… God ransomed us while we were still undeserving sinners.
Isaiah 53:4-6 says,
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
We all have plenty to be thankful for. Give thanks.
- Make the Choice.
Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15,
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.
Colossians 3:15-17 goes on to say,
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
As believers we are called to be a thankful people! We have the most to be thankful for out of anyone… think about it, the riches of the earth are temporal but the gift of Heaven is eternal. So… we don’t have to be the richest, most successful, or popular people on earth to have a thankful Spirit. In Christ we have more than enough to rejoice over!
2 Corinthians 9:15 says,
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Thankfulness is a choice.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
It is the will of God that we live in a constant thankful attitude!
Choose thankfulness. There will always be hardships and trials but because of Christ we have hope and that is enough to be thankful for.
Psalm 106:1 says,
Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!