Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Don't Just Give Thanks; Be 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. I do know 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. The first step to heathenism 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). 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, 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. An ability to think maturely and deeply 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). Or 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 actions deny our words. 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-grandchildren, with which He has blessed our union. 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 give evidence of them by a life characterized by true contentment.

It’s good to say thanks; but it’s better to be thankful.

I Give Thanks

Thousands of memories­­—family and home;

Hosts of dear friends—new and old.

Ample supply from an Unseen Hand;

Numberless Promises on which to stand.

Knowledge of the ages; great Truth to ponder;

Stories of majesty, glory, and wonder.

Grace for the journey each step of the way;

Indwelling Spirit to brighten the day.

Victory promised o’er death and its sting;

Infinite ages to dwell with the King.

No need to worry; on this I depend:

God of Creation is my Father and Friend.

Salle J. Sandlin (2003)

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