It’s the perfect season to brush up on our gratitude skills. Practicing gratitude has many benefits regardless if you are a follower of Christ or not. But I’d like to start with our “guidebook of life” for a foundation. What does the Bible say about gratitude?
Bible Verses about Gratitude
“Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:1-3 NLT
This Psalm was a call for the Israelites to worship God. Our God never changes and we are still called to worship Him today with thanksgiving. He is the one and only King over the heavens and earth!
“Let your roots grow down into him and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 NLT
These deep roots in Jesus give us life-giving strength and a strong faith which should cause us to overflow with thankfulness.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 NLT
Paul is giving us this winning trifecta for our personal growth as followers of Jesus. The gratitude piece “in all circumstances” can be difficult. He reminds us to give thanks in all circumstances for Jesus’ continual presence with us, what He has done for us, and the good He will bring in our difficulties.
Examples of Gratitude in the Bible
Let’s first look at a few examples of gratitude in the Bible, then make the applications to our own lives.
Jesus Feeds the 5000
Jesus spent 3 days teaching and healing a large crowd. He wanted to feed them before He sent them home and used a miracle to multiply five loaves of bread and two fish to feed them all.
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.” Matthew 14:19 NIV
Jesus Raises Lazarus
“So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me. “John 11: 41-42 NIV
Mary’s Song of Gratitude and Praise
Luke 1:46-55 is a beautiful song of praise from Mary. She had just heard the news of her miraculous pregnancy and hurried to visit her relative, Elizabeth. Mary understood what it meant for her reputation to be a pregnant virgin.
A Thankful Leper
Jesus healed ten lepers on his way to Jerusalem. They called out to him for healing, and Jesus obliged; sending them to the priests. He healed them as they obeyed his command. Of the ten, only one returns to thank Jesus. “He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him- and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:16 NIV
Hannah Gives Thanks
Hannah’s story of years-long infertility, her fervent prayers, trust in God, and the subsequent birth of her son, Samuel, is in the book of 1 Samuel. As unbelievable as it is to my heart, she keeps her promise to God. She gives her beloved, long-awaited son, Samuel, back to the Lord for His service.
Gratitude to God
Thanksgiving and gratitude are a major theme throughout the Bible, from the Old Testament right through the book of Revelation. The above examples are only the tip of the iceberg, but they give us attributes of gratitude to think about as we apply them to our own lives.
•Thanksgiving and gratitude are an important part of worship. It honors and glorifies God when we show Him the gratitude He deserves.
How does gratitude play a part in your own personal worship?
•Jesus thanked God for the miracle of providing food for his hungry followers.
Can you think of a time when God miraculously provided for you or answered a prayer? What was your response?
•As Jesus prayed before Lazarus’ tomb, He knows God has heard him. He thanks God for always hearing him.
How often do we give thanks that God is always listening to our prayers? Do we express our thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit who prays for us when we don’t have the words?
•Mary didn’t cower in fear in her home for 9 months when she heard the news of her pregnancy. She accepted her pregnancy as a blessing and felt grateful that God chose her to work out His plans.
Has God ever given you a difficult blessing? Is it hard for you to express your gratefulness in hard circumstances?
Thankful to God
•Of the ten healed lepers, only one returns to give thanks.
I guess I had never thought about the fact that God notices when we express our gratitude to Him. He knows I’m thankful, right? It certainly pricked my conscience a bit to know there are times when I am like the nine lepers who didn’t come back to thank Jesus.
I realized that there’s a difference in feeling grateful vs expressing our thanks to the Giver.
•Hannah prays for years for a child. Her hearts’ longing for a child was an unanswered prayer for a long time, but she never stopped praying. When God answered her prayer, she kept her promise to give him back to God.
Could you be as obedient and grateful as Hannah?
When God grants our heart’s desire, it’s natural to want to hang on tightly to the blessing. Hannah shows us that true gratitude always gives glory to God for our blessings. She also shows us that we should use His blessings as He sees fit, not as we desire.
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Living a Life of Gratitude
Gratitude in all things is God’s will for us and it’s based on trusting his unfailing love. We shouldn’t base our practice of gratitude on the circumstances of our lives. They can change in a heartbeat.
Gratitude can transform us if we make it a way of life. Reading these examples convicted me of ways I can improve. A life filled with gratitude puts the circumstances of our lives into a new context- thankful for what we have, that He is sufficient for us, and focusing on the blessings we have received.
Did any of the examples speak to you personally? Do you have a gratitude practice that works for you? Has it made a difference in your life? Comment below!
Next week we will look at how to put our gratitude in action and look at all the benefits of living a grateful life!
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