Are we a spoiled generation of people? I know when I travel outside of the states I am often struck by what we fail to be grateful for while others would consider the poorest in our country to be wealthy. Gratitude is a virtue that will keep our locomotive life in proper perspective and help us to maintain a balanced life. The psalmist proclaims simply “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” I echo that statement and add the good produced by our thankfulness certainly makes us better people all around. I submit to you a few reasons it is good to give thanks to the Lord and therefore realize the value of gratitude.
A thankful heart recognizes the source of our provision and protection. A grateful person cannot be inward focused. Our focus muscle just doesn’t work that way. Again the psalmist helps us gain directional awareness when he writes “I will lift up my eyes…my help comes from the Lord.” When we thank God for all the help He offers us, we remind ourselves of the Source of all that we have. Let’s thank Him for all the material needs we enjoy. Offer thanksgiving for protection and safety as well. If we can do this, we will naturally lift up our eyes to remember from where all these good things come.
Similarly, a grateful heart will never allow us to forget. Is it possible we are infected with a “what have you done for me lately” mentality? Have you done a good deed for someone, only to have them just a little while later, forget you ever did anything for them? Returning to the words of the psalmist, he reminds us to “bless the Lord…and forget none of His benefits.” A grateful heart remembers.
As alluded to earlier, an attitude of gratitude removes the propensity for self-centeredness because our eyes are upward rather than inward. This fosters in us a spirit of humility before our God. It is impossible to give God a thank offering from a truly thankful heart and simultaneously be occupied with self. The comic strip character Pogo had great theology when he proclaimed “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Thanksgiving will help us to cease being our own worst enemy by ceasing to be self-referential.
Finally, grateful people ultimately are givers rather than takers. They are concerned with what they can bring to the table instead of what they can acquire. When we are grateful for what we have, we usually won’t clamor for more. Contentment becomes our abode.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving…” Psalm 100:4