“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” - G.K. Chesterton
“Gratitude maximizes the enjoyment of the good.” - Dr. Robert Emmons
Most people do not realize how out-of-shape they are until they start working out. It’s a huge wake-up call to get on the treadmill after not running for over a year. A few minutes of light jogging will leave an unconditioned runner panting and struggling with every step. It can be truly eye-opening. Likewise, it is often not until we intentionally start practicing gratitude that we realize how much we take for granted.
We know that we should be thankful, in theory. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of our modern lives, it’s difficult to slow down and appreciate the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us. We are blessed by God beyond our understanding. It is our responsibility to dive deeper to discover what we should and what we must be grateful for.
GRATITUDE IN THE BIBLE
The words thanks, thankfulness, and thanksgiving appear over 150 times in the Bible. If God says something over 150 times, he is probably trying to tell us something.
Examples of Thankfulness in the Old Testament:
Examples of Thankfulness in the New Testament:
GRATITUDE IS A WEAPON OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
The more we exercise and workout our “gratitude muscles,” the more we can be victorious against the miseries of the enemy and instead operate and abide in the joy of the Lord.
The holy Scriptures say, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Many know this verse well. We are told to pray all the time, to give thanks in all circumstances, to show gratitude to God whether we are on top of the mountain or in the bottom of the valley. Those are all important and good, but, unfortunately, many of us stop reading there. The next verse says, “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) In our own Christian walks, there is nothing that will quench the spirit of God more than grumbling and complaining.
Consider this: we have the power to determine the direction of our relationships based on attitude. A marriage can be made either awesome or miserable depending on whether each partner chooses to be a complainer or a person of gratitude. Constant complaints about the cleanliness of the house, or that dinner wasn’t just right, or that the other person spent too much money on something is going to discourage and put a distance in the relationship. Constant complaining and negativity will affect a marriage. Instead, if constant thanks and genuine appreciation are shown every time the house is in order, every time a great meal is made, or every time a simple act of kindness is shown, the other partner’s spirit will be raised, drawing a couple closer together.
The Bible says we are married to Christ. Your walk with God can be healthy or disastrous depending on whether you complain or give thanks in all things. Don’t focus on what is going wrong in your life. Instead, train yourself to thank God for what is going right. We were meant to live a life of victory and triumph. One of the best ways to tap into the joy of the Lord is by practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
HOW TO WORK YOUR GRATITUDE MUSCLE
- Create a “Gratitude Jar.” Place it where you will always see it. Leave some sticky notes and a pen next to it. Every day before you go to bed, write down at least one thing that went well that day. At the end of the year, empty the notes out and be reminded of how blessed you have been that year.
- Write a letter to someone who has been a blessing in your life. It will make both them and you feel like a million bucks!
- Practice saying “I get to” instead of “I have to.” It makes life so much more fun!
- Dr. Robert Emmons, a gratitude expert, recommends using visual reminders. Post some of your favorite Bible verses about gratitude on your walls or mirrors to remind you to give thanks in all circumstances.
- Include a time of thanks each time you pray. God has been so good to us! You can thank Him for all of the blessings He has given you, both big and small!
Best-selling author Melody Beattie once said, “Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Let's strive to become the most grateful people on the planet. The more grateful we become, the more we will find ourselves living life to the absolute fullest in the Lord. Let us thank God everyday for all of the blessings He has given us. By making gratitude a habit, our lives will be changed!
The Bible instructors at Mount Paran Christian School have a vast knowledge of the Christian faith that they graciously share during their courses for students. These instructors have agreed to extend their expertise to a summer blog series exploring various aspects of Christianity. Second in the series is “How to Practice Extreme Gratitude,” with tips for developing and exercising our “gratitude muscles.”
Derek McCloud is the sixth-grade Bible teacher at Mount Paran Christian School. He is passionate about teaching his students how to grow deeper in their walks with the Lord and make the Word of God come alive in their lives. When Mr. McCloud is not teaching, he enjoys spending time outside with his amazing wife, Audrey, and his Border Collie, Penny Lane.
Click here to learn more about what love-in-action looks like through service at Mount Paran Christian School. You may also read this WingTips article on the #BeKind initiative at MPCS which spreads kindness and gratitude.