Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Be Ye Thankful

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Col.3:15)

One could easily infer from this verse that peace and gratitude are inseparable. The former cannot be obtained without an ample dose of the latter. The ungrateful soul will look in vain for peace of heart…and mind. To the harried, frantic man or woman, gratitude is a syrupy sentiment that always comes with disclaimers that begin with, “But…” It is also obvious from this verse that gratitude, like love, is a choice. Be ye thankful—or not. My husband has pointed out on numerous occasions that the first step to heathendom is ingratitude. The descent into animal worship and animal behavior begins with, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful…” (Rom.1:21). On this day before we gather with family and friends to celebrate our gratefulness to God as a nation, I have two thoughts to help us examine our own “gratitude attitude.”

First, the one prerequisite for being thankful is maturity. As long as one is still looking at life through irresponsible eyes of self-gratification and childish insecurities, he or she will never be able to grasp the true blessings of life. One of our friends who is an amateur etymologist shared with us that the word “thanksgiving” comes from root words that literally mean, “gift of my thoughts.” And that is exactly what is required if we are to nurture our appreciation skills. A well-honed ability to think maturely will invariably result in a spirit of gratitude.

My other thought is the obvious result of the first. The evidence of a thankful heart is contentment. It is not the most articulate or effusive words of appreciation, but the most contented life that truly says, “I am thankful.” The Scripture says, “Be content with such things as ye have” (Heb.13:5). As we used to say, “Make do.” Make do with your husband or wife, children, possessions, health, temperament, looks—all of it. Not because they are all you have, but because they are all you want. We may say we are thankful for our husbands, but if we are constantly trying to correct or change them, our words belie our actions. We may profess that we are grateful for the children God gave us, but when we insist upon comparing them with the children of others, they feel little appreciation. And when we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to upgrade our possessions, health, or looks, our discontent has smothered any vestige of gratitude we might profess.

I could tell you today that I am thankful for the good husband God gave to me and the wonderful children, grandchildren, and great-grandson He has blessed our union with. I can say I am thankful for a cozy home, clothes in my closet, and food in the cupboards. I could bless the Lord that I was able to rise from my bed this morning and take care of my own physical needs; and I could smile and say the gray in my hair is not a sign that I am old, just well seasoned! I could say all these things—and mean them, too—but I would rather evidence them by a life characterized by true contentment.

It is good to give thanks; but it is better to be thankful.

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