Monday, November 21, 2011

What Gratitude Can Do

By Bill McFarland
     Some form of the word "thanks" appears in the English Bible 140 times. Obviously, God's people are to be known for their thankful hearts. Have you ever thought about why it is so necessary that we give thanks to God? It's certainly not because God needs it! The Scriptures teach that we need to give thanks because of what gratitude will do for our own lives.
     Gratitude can give us the desire to serve God. Those who genuinely appreciate what the Lord has done for them gladly obey His will. The apostle Paul, for example, was so thankful for the Lord's grace and mercy that he was willing to do anything for the Lord's cause (1 Tim. 1:12). Thankfulness destroys lukewarmness.
     Gratitude can give us peace of mind. Someone said, "it is not the happy people who are thankful. It is the thankful people who are happy." Thanksgiving helps us to fix our eyes on the brighter side and erase the anxiety which stands in the way of peace (Phil. 4:6-7). The peace of God can rule in hearts which are thankful (Col. 3:15).
     Gratitude can contribute to spiritual strength. It is not easy to face the temptations and trials which come our way in life. The inner strength required to be patient and longsuffering is inevitably linked to the giving of thanks (Col. 1:11-12). People who are strong in the faith will be found "abounding in thanksgiving" (Col. 2:6-7).
     Gratitude can increase harmony among brethren. Thankful people are not as likely to struggle with envy and hurt feelings. Those who are "giving thanks in all things," have no trouble submitting themselves to one another (Eph. 5:20-21). A grateful spirit opens the heart to others.
     Gratitude can keep us from the path of sin. For example, the 1st chapter of Romans shows how people sink through uncleanness to vileness and finally reach the level of a reprobate. Paul says that this tragic process begins when people are unthankful (Rom. 1:21). A thankful heart can prevent this sad fall.
     No wonder the Scriptures so often call for the giving of thanks! A sincere spirit of gratitude is a giant step toward a better life.

- Bill McFarland; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.

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