A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.
As the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, so likewise a cheerful thanksgiver.
Gratitude is a handmaiden of contentment. An ever-growing attitude of gratitude will certainly make us more content since we will be focusing more on what we do have, both spiritually and materially, than on what we do not have. But contentment is more than focusing on what we have. It is focusing on the fact that all we do have; we have by the grace of God. We do not deserve anything we have, materially or spiritually. It is all by His grace.
Thankfulness to God is a recognition that God in His goodness and faithfulness has provided for us and cared for us, both physically and spiritually. It is a recognition that we are totally dependent upon Him; that all that we are and have comes from God.
An unthankful and complaining spirit is an abiding sin against God, and a cause of almost continual unhappiness; and yet how common such a spirit is. How prone we seem to be to forget the good that life knows, and remember and brood over its evil – to forget its joys, and think only of its sorrows – to forget thankfulness, and remember only to complain.
Is it not lamentable that men will never thank God for the countless blessings He confers upon them, and then remember Him only to complain of the evils which they have brought upon themselves, and which are never half so great as their misconduct deserves?
If thankfulness does not move us to serve God, then we do not truly understand who our God is and what He has done in our behalf. Without gratitude for Christ’s sacrificial love, our duty will become nothing more than drudgery and our God nothing more than a dissatisfied boss.
Memory…keeps gratitude fresh and…gratitude keeps faith fruitful.
An evidence that our will has been broken is that we begin to thank God for that which once seemed so bitter, knowing that His will is good and that, in His time and in His way, He is able to make the most bitter waters sweet.
The problem with being thankful is not so much one of manners as it is of alertness to the facts, that is, simply having open eyes to what is true. And it is true that you and I deserve nothing good. No, more than that, we deserve everything bad – an eternity in hell.
Thankfulness flows out of a heart that is rooted in Christ. If Christ is the Lord of our lives, we will live in Him, be built up in Him, and be strengthened in Him. Ultimately we will find ourselves overflowing with thankfulness to Him for all that He has done on our behalf.
Preoccupied with ourselves, we have lost the grace of being thankful. It is sad to live in a world where there is no one to thank because we have ourselves become the cause and source of all good things.
For if [a Christian] cannot thank and praise God as well in calamities and sufferings as in prosperity and happiness, he is as far from the piety of a Christian as he that only loves them that love him is from the charity of a Christian. For to thank God only for such things as you like is no more a proper act of piety than to believe only what you see is an act of faith. Resignation and thanksgiving to God are only acts of piety when they are acts of faith, trust and confidence in the divine goodness.
Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays the most or fasts the most, it is not he who lives the most, but it is he who is always thankful to God, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.
We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.
A thankful heart is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a believer. It stands in stark contrast to pride, selfishness, and worry. And it helps fortify the believer’s trust in the Lord and reliance of His provision, even in the toughest times. No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.
We may often be baffled by the reality of the power of evil as it is manifest in our circumstances. Sometimes that power seems so overwhelming that we are unable to praise within the circumstances of our life. It is then that we do well to recall the words of the Apostle Paul. When writing amidst difficult circumstances to the Church at Ephesus he could say, ‘Giving thanks always for all things unto God.’ He had come to know that no matter what the source of the evil, if we are in Christ, and surrounded by Him as by an atmosphere, all evil has to pass through Him before it comes to us (Robert Norris).
Gratitude is the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence; yet it is often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it.
This one is so simple that we miss it. Why aren’t we more grateful? There are many answers to that question, but this one is central: we aren’t grateful because we’ve never asked God to give us a grateful heart. By nature we are covetous, greedy, grasping and unhappy. Left to ourselves, we will be just like that rich fool. Generosity isn’t our natural impulse. We aren’t born giving; we’re born getting. Gratitude is not the inborn language of the heart.
With our compass pointed north, we forge forward in the storms of life knowing that God is sovereign over all the situations that we encounter. And we as His children have that special comfort that He is working all things together for our good. We might not have asked for it. Odds are on the surface we don’t like it either. But deep down inside, we cling to the Lord by faith, trusting His invisible hand that is always wise and kind to fulfill His good purposes. That’s why Christians and only Christians can obey the command from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks…in everything…for this is God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus.”
Grateful hearts will always find an outlet to express their gratitude. Grateful hearts among believers, will find that outlet primarily fulfilled in their prayers to God – the sovereign giver of all good things.
Rich people are greedy for the same reason poor people are greedy, because they are people. Gratitude, not poverty, cures greed.
When we bless God for mercies, we usually prolong them. When we bless God for miseries, we usually end them. Praise is the honey of life which a devout heart extracts from every bloom of providence and grace.
It is probable that in most of us the spiritual life is impoverished and stunted because we give so little place to gratitude. It is more important to thank God for blessings received than to pray for them beforehand. For that forward-looking prayer, though right as an expression of dependence upon God, is still self-centered in part, at least, of its interest; there is something we hope to gain by our prayer. But the backward-looking act of thanksgiving is quite free from this. In itself it is quite selfless. Thus it is akin to love. All our love to God is in response to his love for us; it never starts on our side. "We love, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.
Thanksgiving gives effect to prayer, and frees from anxious carefulness by making all God’s dealings matter for praise, not merely for resignation, much less murmuring. Peace is the companion of thanksgiving.