Gratitude

Gratitude
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Gratitude is an expression of indebtedness. It comes from a heart that knows that it does not deserve what it has. It is the acknowledgement that someone has done something for you which he was not obliged to do, and that acknowledgement is expressed.

JESUS THE SUPREME EXAMPLE

The Lord Jesus prayed, saying, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26). On another occasion, the Saviour prayed, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41).

The Lord Jesus was the very God of very God, but from the moment when He decided to forgo all the glory of heaven and come down to earth as man, He lost all rights to anything in heaven. He then became totally dependent on the good will of the Father. So, when the Father hid things from those who thought themselves wise and revealed them to babes, the Lord Jesus was grateful for this and thanked His Father for it. God’s will was being brought to pass and, since the commitment of the Lord Jesus was to see the will of God accomplished, He thanked the Father for it. Then Jesus thanked the Father for hearing Him. It is as if He was saying, “Father, I have no right to be heard, but You have nevertheless heard Me. I am grateful to You for this. Thank You.” He did not express the gratitude silently. He expressed it aloud. He said it so that others might hear Him and know His heart’s attitude about the matter.

The gratitude of the Lord Jesus was an expression of humility. He was expressing dependence. He was saying, “l have no right to this.” He was not competing with God. He was meek and lowly of heart. Gratitude is a quality of character often found among the meek and lowly of heart. The proud of heart, who are an abomination to the Lord, are not grateful.

JESUS DEMANDS GRATITUDE

The Bible says,

“And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well’” (Luke 17:12-19).

These lepers were in desperate need. The Lord was not obliged to heal them. When they cried to Him, He had mercy on them and healed them. Nine of them were Jews. One was a Samaritan. The Jews took their healing for granted. They sort of said, “He has only done His job.” Or they forgot the One who healed them in the joy of their newly found freedom. They wanted the healing. They had no place for the Healer. They forgot Him. They had no time for Him. The Samaritan was different. When he found that he had been healed, his thoughts went away from himself to the One who had healed him. He turned back and went towards Jesus. His whole being was full of praise. He praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face before the Lord Jesus. He fell at His feet. He was humble to the core. He did not only fall at His feet. He gave thanks. The Lord gave him spiritual health in addition to the physical health that he already possessed. He was doubly blessed.

The Lord wondered why the others had not come to give thanks. His heart must have ached at the fact that, by not coming back, they lost the greater healing. Had they come back, they would have each received a bonus - eternal life. But by being ungrateful, they lost it all.

THE BELIEVER’S ATTITUDE

The believer owes a double debt of gratitude to the Lord. He owes God gratitude as the Creator and Sustainer of human life, and he owes God gratitude as the Creator and Sustainer of the New Life.

All believers must thank God for:-

  1. Creating them
  2. All that He has given to keep life going:-
  • Fresh air
  • Food
  • Housing
  • Clothing
  • Neighbours
  • Transportation
  • Friends
  • Family
  • etc 

To complain about the weather, climate, etc, is to question God in His sovereignty as the Creator. Some people complain when it is hot and complain when it is cold; they complain when it is dry and again when it is wet. This is most sad. No child of God dares put on such an attitude.

When did you last thank God for creating you and for all that He has given you to sustain your life? Is it just words like “Thank You, Lord,” or is your whole being grateful?

If you are deeply grateful, your whole attitude to life will change radically. First of all, you will not complain. You will not compare yourself positively or negatively with any other person. You will consider yourself as a distinct individual put into God’s world to enjoy it. You will look at each new day as a big gift from God with good works planned from the very foundation of the world for you to fill it with. You will consider every minute a blessing, every flower a gift from God, to beautify His world for your enjoyment. You will look at each human being as a potential heir of God’s glorious Kingdom and, therefore, thank God for him or her. You will regard every opportunity as a manifestation of God’s sovereign will and for all these things, there will go up from your lips unceasing praise.

Secondly, you will not run away from difficult situations. You will thank Him for them and do all in your power to co-operate with Him to have the situation go His way.

Thirdly, you will not complain about your size, family, nation, etc. You will thank God for all of these, since they are all part of the gracious will of a loving Father. You will say with the Lord, “I thank thee, Father..... for such was thy gracious will.”

The believer will, above all, thank the Lord for the New Life in the Lord Jesus. Think about it for a moment. Are you grateful to the Lord about your salvation? Has it truly dawned on you what it would mean to be without Christ and be bound for hell? Do you know what it means to live with the wrath of God abiding on you? Do you know what it means to be bound by sin and subject to all the whims and pleasures of the wicked one? If you know these and the other terrible things that are the lot of those without Christ, you should be grateful to God for saving you.

Have you been blessed in knowing the Lord Jesus personally? Have you been blessed in being a child of God and knowing that you are an heir to the promises and the throne of God? Have you been blessed in enjoying the peace and favour of God the Father? Has it satisfied your heart in knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells in you? Have you ever seen the privileged position which God has given you in Christ Jesus by allowing you to serve Him and be a co-worker with Him in carrying out the most important job on earth? Have you ever come to grips with the privilege that God has given you in making you belong to His household? If these and the multitude of other privileges that are yours in the Lord ever dawn on you, your heart will rise in continuous and spontaneous gratitude to God.

The sad thing is that many believers take their salvation so lightly. Sometimes they make as if God made a mistake in saving them. They grumble and speak of the limitations of the Christian walk as if to say to God, “God, why did You save me? My life would have been more satisfying had You not interfered.” They complain about other brethren as if to say to God, “Why did You not leave me in the world? I found unbelievers more agreeable and their companionship more satisfying.” Many believers complain about God’s will for their lives as if to say, “God, I would have made better plans for my life than the ones You have made for me.” They complain about this and that and the other as if to say, in the final analysis, “God, You have messed my life for me, but since You are greater than I am, I bow to You; for, what can I do?”

Such an attitude of life betrays profound ingratitude. It is also a mark of pride, spiritual blindness, contempt towards God, taking God’s gift for granted.

If that is your heart’s attitude, you can say, “Praise the Lord. Thank You, Father,” at moments of passing happiness but, such praise and thanksgiving being momentary, cannot please God. Those who know their God know that He cannot err. They know that all that He does is correct, and that, as long as they love Him, He will work out all for their best interest to make them like the Lord Jesus. Such then follow the injunctions of Scripture which say,

  1. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  2. “He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honours me” (Psalm 50:23)..
  3. “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praises to the name of the Lord, the Most High” (Psalm 7:17).
  4. “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17).
  5. “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

They will join the apostle Paul in thanking the Lord for all the brethren, for he thanked God, saying:

  1. “I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4). This thanksgiving was made not because of a “perfect” Church, for the Corinthians were far from that.
  2. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3)
  3. “We give thanks to God always for you all” (1 Thessalonians 1:2).

Have you ever thanked the Lord for each believer? Not to do so would be to say that that one is so bad that it would be better for him, for you, for the world, for the cause of the Gospel if he were never a believer. It would be to say that God made a mistake in ordaining him unto eternal life and that the Holy Spirit was wrong to convict, convince and convert him. Can you take such an attitude?

GRATITUDE TO OTHERS

Those who are grateful to the Lord will also be grateful for each thing that they receive from God’s creatures and from God’s children. They will be grateful for all the things, both big and small. They will be grateful for kindness shown to them in every way. They will be grateful for visits, for words of encouragement, for gifts, for food, for anything that is done for them. They will constantly say, “Thank you,” not lightly, but because in their innermost hearts they are grateful. In response they will do all they can to do the same to some others. The gratitude will be without partiality - it will go to all men and for all gifts, big or small. It will be expressed in “Thank you, my dear brother,” or “Thank you, my dear sister.” “Thank you” will not just be mere empty words, but their whole being will be allowed to flow to the Lord and to the person.

The grateful will be personal. They will not receive a gift from someone and just say, “Thanks be to God.” They will say to the person who has been used by the Lord to give the gift, “Thank you for this gift.” The grateful will look for ways to truly express their gratitude.

I find people who are stingy and thoughtless hurting people by their words. For example, many will receive a gift and say, “Thanks.” They should have said, “Thank you very much, my dear brother.” Even when the gift meets the needs of many they will rather keep quiet about it, but those who have learnt a lot from the Lord say, “Thank you again for the gift. It met my need in this or that way.”

Gratitude is thus the fruit of great cultivation. You do not find it on barren spiritual trees. Are you one such? Begin today and do something about it. You will become increasingly and spontaneously grateful as you go deeper with the Lord. I suggest that while the Holy Spirit is working that out, you apply yourself in a disciplined way, to the task of putting on gratitude as follows:-

  1. Write out in an exercise book that has been set aside for that purpose, one thousand things about which you are grateful to God.
  2. Write fifty letters of gratitude to people who have been a blessing to you, but to whom you have never clearly shown appreciation of what they did to you.
  3. Day by day, open your eyes and your entire personality to situations in which you can say, “Thank You, Lord” and, also, “Thank you, Mr/ Mrs/ Miss...”

FINALLY

The grateful leper received a bonus of healing. Make gratitude your way of life and you will receive bonuses from the Lord and from those He created.

God bless you!


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