Tuesday, 01 May 2012
Part of being a Christian is being grateful for all our God gives to us and does for us. We should be operating every day with an attitude of loving thanks to our God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us clearly and without question that this is how we should be living. "In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (Notice it says 'in' everything, not necessarily 'for' everything. That tells me that this is talking about giving thanks in every situation, not that we should be thanking God for everything that comes our way. A lot of bad things are going to come our way, and while God does work all things for our good, I don't think it's wise to blindly thank God for things we have to suffer through.)
One important aspect of grace is that it cannot be earned. Romans 11:6 says "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." The grace of God extended to you is not done so on the basis of your work. Grace is not payment for services rendered; if you are doing good, and if, as far as you can tell, you're doing everything right, and God blesses you, you might think that you deserved that blessing, that you earned it. But you didn't. You can't. And if you think you earned or deserved however God chose to bless you, then you probably are not properly grateful for that blessing.
But once we understand that the grace of God, i.e. the favor of God poured on to us to extend His love in bountiful measure to us, is not deserved, we can be grateful and thankful about what He does for us in our lives. It's important to be grateful to God for the many things He has given us, and for the many wonders He does for us all the time. It's easy not to take notice of everything that we have from God, or to fall out of gratitude for something that we've had for a long time or that we take for granted. Everything we have, every little convenience we enjoy, everything we take any kind of pleasure in, comes from God. James 1:17 tells us that "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."
It can seem too simple to be grateful. It can be an easy lesson to shrug off, but it's really important to learn and to put into practice as often as possible until it becomes second nature; at the very least, it will help you to be a happier person. I also believe that God takes more pleasure in giving good things to someone who is happy to get them than in someone who complains all the time. I don't have a Scripture for that, it just makes sense to me. We do know from Matthew 7:7-11 that God wants to give us good things. He takes joy in our joy and happiness; it's just like when I give my dog a treat or a new toy. I love to see him happily eating his treat, and it makes me happy in return. Matthew 7 uses the example of a father with his children. The father delights in his children's delight. But if a father gives his child a gift and the child is ungrateful, who has gotten any pleasure from that gift? Neither the child nor the father. Matthew doesn't go into that much detail about it, but it's a logical progression of thought. Matthew 7 also says to ask, and it will be given you. James 4:2 says "you do not have because you do not ask." We should not be afraid to ask God for what we want. Verse 3 goes on to say that we don't get what we ask for because we want it out of greed, so we can 'spend it on your pleasures.'
But the point is to be grateful; realize and know that God has given you a lot, even if you're in a situation where it doesn't seem like you have much. Take some time to think about what you have, and thank God for it. I'll go so far as to say that if you are grateful for what you have, God will give you more. I've been talking about being a disciple and giving your all to God. If you are grateful for what you have, God will you more, and what He gives you might be more responsibility, more opportunity to serve Him, more ways to share His love with others. But I strongly feel that God is giving this to me: if you practice gratitude, God will give you more in abundance. I feel like He's making that promise right now. Be grateful to Him, and you will open yourself up to receive in greater abundance.
One thing that is very easy for me to be grateful for is good food. I love food of all kinds! There are so many wonderful, diverse taste sensations out there to be experienced! If you want to experience the diversity of God and the world He has created, just think for a minute about all the different kinds of food; the flavors, the colors, the textures and the vast ways they can be mixed and matched and re-experienced. Give me one bite of something delicious, and I am instantly grateful for it.
What are some things you are grateful to God for? What are some things you should probably be more grateful to God for? How has gratefulness impacted your relationship with God?