Learning the value of gratitude.
I have often told my grandchildren that I am proud of them and have been amazed at their response. “Why, Grumpy?”, they asked. This questions gives me a tremendous opportunity to speak encouragement and truth into their lives. When I affirm a character trait that is God-honoring it causes them to want to do a better job at developing that trait in their lives.
Over the past several months I have reflected on the value of a grateful heart. I have meditated on the way that the Apostle Paul expressed gratitude through his letters. There are two things that have stood out to me. First of all, his gratitude was expressed to God. It is clear from Paul’s letters that one of the things he intends to convey to his readers is a heart of gratitude to God for the gift of salvation. Galatians 1:15-16 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
“15 But even before I was born, God had chosen me. He was kind and had decided16 to show me his Son, so that I would announce his message to the Gentiles…”
Secondly, he made sure that his readers understood what it was in their lives that he was thanking God for.
- He addresses the Romans:“I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you and for the way in which your faith is spoken of all over the world” [1:8].
- To the Ephesians: “That will explain why I, having once heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and the love that you show towards all the saints, have never failed to remember you in my prayers and to thank God for you.” [1:15-16].
- To the Colossians: “We have never failed to remember you in our prayers and to give thanks for you to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you show toward all the saints…” [3-4].
- The First Thessalonians:“We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- The Second Thessalonians: “We feel we must be continually thanking God for you; quite rightly, because your faith is growing so wonderfully and the love that you have for one another never stops increasing…”
- Second Timothy: “Night and day I thank God…and always I remember you in my prayers;…Then I am reminded of the sincere faith which you have…”
- And Philemon: “I always mention you in my prayers and thank God for you, because I hear of the love and the faith which you have for the Lord Jesus and for all the saints” [Phm. v. 4].
If I were to hear these things from a trusted friend and mentor it would cause me to want to continue doing the things I had been doing well and it would cause me to want to be to others what my mentor had been to me.
When giving praise and saying thank you we must be sure to first give thanks to God and secondly be specific. You can never express gratitude too much. Tell your wife and children (and grand-children) often why you thank God for them. Tell your employees, employer and co-workers why you enjoy working with them and in your heart thank God for this gift to you. Tell the students in your ministry why you are glad they are there and what they bring to the ministry and in your heart express gratitude to God.
In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.