Thanksgiving What is gratitude? Webster’s 1828 GRATITUDE, An emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or good will towards a benefactor; thankfulness. Gratitude is an agreeable emotion, consisting in or accompanied with good will to a benefactor, and a disposition to make a suitable return of benefits or services, or when no return can be made, with a desire to see the benefactor prosperous and happy. Gratitude is a virtue of the highest excellence, as it implies a feeling and generous heart, and a proper sense of duty. Does gratitude come naturally? (even for the Christian?) Ingratitude is one of the most easily traced human characteristics demonstrated in the Bible. Israel’s grumbling during the 40 years Israel’s response to Jesus The 10 lepers (Lk. 17) healed by Jesus could argue that only 1 in 10 people are thankful. What triggers gratitude? Grateful: Warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received. Appreciate: To value or regard highly; place a high estimation on. The value we place on the kindness received determines the measure of our gratitude. God puts a premium on gratitude Romans 1.21-23: For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Gratitude, a virtue For the Christian, gratitude cannot be understood as limited to a momentary response to a particular blessing or favor. It must be characteristic of the Christian. It is nurtured to maturity only by a growing understanding of the person of God. Since the essence of gratitude is founded upon God’s virtues, it is unrelated to circumstances. Gratitude enables the believer to mature through suffering James 1.2-4: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. The virtue of gratitude is not given to us so we can appreciate pleasant things, but that we will appreciate God’s hand in trials. Gratitude must be taught Since parents are God’s agents for transmitting the faith and practice of Christianity, we must train gratitude into our children. If we raise ungrateful children, we make faith in the gospel/devotion to Christ difficult for them. Can we have an ungrateful heart, yet be grateful to God? If we are ungrateful to God, will we allow Him to be the Lord of our lives? Gratitude is vital because… 55 times in the Psalms alone we are taught to give thanks to God. Psalm 86.12: I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Thy name forever. Thankfulness to God is an indication of spiritual maturity. Psalm 119.7-11: I shall give thanks to Thee with uprightness of heart, when I learn Thy righteous judgments…How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word…Thy word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against Thee. Gratitude is vital because… Thankfulness to God will overflow as a testimony of Him. 1Chronicles 16.8: Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Gratitude causes the outpouring of praise to God. Exodus 15.2: The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him. Gratitude is vital because… Being truly thankful is God’s will for us. 1 Thessalonians 5.17-19: …pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit… Thankfulness should characterize our personality. Ephesians 5.4: …and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. Gratitude is vital because… Gratitude is an essential part of a healthy prayer life. Philippians 4.6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Gratitude is vital because… Gratitude is at the heart of the Christian walk. Colossians 3.15-17: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another…singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Gratitude is vital because… Gratitude protects against discontent. Philippians 4.10-13: But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. What does gratitude look like? The fruit of the Spirit Gratitude is the door through which the Christlikeness in us pours out to the people around us. Gratitude is seeing the worth of others. Gratitude is seeing the worth of trials. It is saying with Job, “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away; blesses be the name of the LORD.” How do we develop gratitude? • Pray for a changed heart; repent of ingratitude • Recognize that affluence is an enemy of gratitude; adapt and overcome. • Keep a gratitude journal • Pray Psalm 136.1 • Write cards and letters expressing gratitude. • Share gratefulness around the dinner table.