One of the hallmarks of a degenerate society is the lack of thankfulness. This makes sense since giving thanks is an acknowledgment of God’s praiseworthiness and His goodness. Therefore, those who reject God are marked by a refusal to give thanks to God (cf. Rom 1:21).
In contrast to thankless unbelievers, Christians are to be marked by constantly being thankful (Phil 4:6; 1 Tim 4:4). Thus, in honor of American Thanksgiving (sorry Canada), I want to give a few practical ways to promote a thankful heart during this season.
Here are three practical ways you can stimulate thankfulness in your heart.
Focus on what you deserve.
This should be the ultimate prompt for Christians. As Christians, we are recipients of a thing called grace. We deserve hell and eternal damnation. We deserve nothing good, only judgment for rebelling against the Creator. Thus, how much do we have to be thankful for when we realize we are not getting what we deserve?
When we focus on what we should get, our perspective rightfully changes. The immature Christian says, “I deserve better!” The mature Christian says, “I deserve far worse.”
Focus on what you have, not what you don’t.
This is a roundabout way of talking about contentment. If you focus on the blessings God has given you, you are less likely to suffer from the “I want that” syndrome. God has given us so many things! Pay attention to what He has given you—and thank Him for those underserved blessings (see the first point).
The immature Christian says, “Why don’t I have more?” The mature Christian says, “Why do I have so much?” Furthermore, the mature Christian rightly acknowledges that everything he does have comes directly from God (cf. James 1:17). In the words of Paul, “What do you have you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7). Christians have thousands of reasons to focus on the gifts God has already given us.
Focus on being a giver, not a getter.
This principle is so rich and profound. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). When we take the focus off of ourselves and give to others there is a transformation that occurs. When we find the greatest joy and satisfaction in serving others, not only will our joy be the fullest, but it is also difficult to take that joy away!
It is difficult to be self-centered when we are giving to others. Ironically, when we give to others we become thankful that we have the opportunity to give because we see those opportunities as the greatest blessings of life. Thus, if you are struggling to be thankful, train yourself to like giving better than receiving.
The immature Christian asks, “What can I get?” The mature Christian asks, “What can I give?”
Christians should understand how important it is that we be known as thankful people. Not only are there many commands to be thankful, but there are also both positive and negative examples of the need to be thankful. Think about the generation of the Exodus that wandered in the wilderness 40 years. The hallmark of that generation was grumbling and complaining, and it cost them their lives.
We should strive to inculcate thanksgiving, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. That is our Christian duty, and I pray that you join me in thanking our Lord for so many wonderful things He has given us! Happy Thanksgiving and praise be to the Father of Lights!