In a few days, America will celebrate Thanksgiving. We celebrate this holiday every year on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a time to rest and thank God for the blessings He has bestowed upon us.
Sadly, Thanksgiving is being surpassed by Christmas. Stores often play Christmas music and display Christmas products immediately after Halloween. And many people spend part of Thanksgiving Day planning (or starting) their Black Friday shopping!
This tendency to rush past Thanksgiving reveals something about our culture – we have lost our gratitude. Although we are the wealthiest nation ever, we are unsatisfied. We have everything we need, yet we complain about not getting what we want.
This affects the church as well. We take for granted what an incredible privilege it is to gather freely for worship. We complain about our preferences and willingly forget the hardships our brothers and sisters are facing in other countries.
As Americans and as Christians, we have become ungrateful.
God Wants Us to be Grateful
The entire Bible is clear that God wants us to appreciate and thank Him for the blessings He bestows upon us.
In the Old Testament, the book of Leviticus has regulations for thank offerings. These sacrifices were specifically offered to tell God “thank you.” The Psalms are full of appeals for us to thank Him and offer thank offerings to Him.
In the New Testament, Jesus often thanks God before eating a meal or performing a miracle. The apostle Paul thanks God for his readers in 12 of his 13 letters! He often appeals for us to give thanks as well:
- “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or course joking…but rather thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4).
- “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything” (Ephesians 5:20).
- “Rejoice in the Lord always…let your gentleness be evident to all…in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:4-7).
- “Whatever you do…do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
- “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).
- “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Unlisted Fruit of the Spirit
These passages demonstrate that gratefulness is a fruit of the Spirit. Although it isn’t listed in Galatians 5:22-23, it’s often mentioned with those that are. These passages associate it with joy, gentleness, and peace. They also associate it with prayer.
Gratitude can strengthen your relationships with others, but a lack of gratitude can seriously damage them. The same is true about your relationship with God. You can’t be godly without being grateful. You aren’t a godly person unless you’re a grateful person.
How have you experienced the power of gratitude? Leave your thoughts with a comment below!
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