Gratitude is an interesting topic for most people. Sometimes we feel guilty because we realize our lack of it, then five minutes later we are back to taking the things we should be more grateful about for granted. We live in a world full of people who want others to show them gratitude, but so often don’t think to show it themselves. We think we are worthy of it but treat others as if they are unworthy of it. Because of sin, we are not prone to naturally express gratitude the way God would have us do.
What is gratitude according to scripture?
In 1 Thessalonians 5, the Apostle Paul gives us some vital instructions. He tells us to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in everything (1 Thess. 5:16-18). With this exhortation comes other vital instructions for how Christians are to treat one another.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. 12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you[a] in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers and sisters: warn those who are idle,[b] comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:11-18 CSB (emphasis mine)
In verse 18, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us to “give thanks in everything“. This term “give thanks” comes from the Greek word eucharisteō (G2168) and is used all over the New Testament. It means both to feel thankful as well as to actively express gratitude, and is most often used when giving thanks to God.
I love the context of giving gratitude, meaning it is not just a feeling, it is also displayed, shown, given. One participates in the act of expressing the gratitude one feels. Gratitude is much more than saying “thank you”. It is also much more than just feeling thankful. It is actively displaying your thanks. Gratitude if lived, not merely spoken or felt.
How should we show gratitude?
Scripture has a lot to say about gratitude, and many ways we can apply gratitude to our lives. An important aspect to note is that gratitude is intentional. We must act on and express our thankfulness. Over the coming weeks we will be exploring different ways Christians can express gratitude in different areas of our lives, including:
- Showing gratitude to God
- Showing gratitude to friends and family
- Showing gratitude to strangers
- Showing gratitude throughout our lives
We will dive into what scripture says, as well as how we can practically, creatively, and purposefully live out gratitude in all areas of our lives. I invite you to commit with me to being more intentional about showing thanks to God and to others in your life, and learning more about how to do so.
Gratitude is God’s Will
While Paul encourages Christians to be thankful in everything, he also gives us the reason – gratitude is the will of God for those who are in Christ. The will of God is that His people are grateful. As followers of Jesus we should be filled up with gratitude for the salvation we have through the grace of God, and this gratitude should pour out of us to God and in our lives.
17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:17 CSB
We should be seeking to please God in all things, and gratefully acknowledge all that He has blessed us with. Gratitude, again, is active. It has to start inward, and then should flow out of us and be evident in our lives. When we delight in the Lord, we recognize His work and will in our lives, and we are thankful for Him, hunger and thirst for Him. This leads us to live out our gratitude toward Him in all areas of our lives because we gratefully delight in God and His will for our lives.
Take delight in the Lord,Psalm 37:4 CSB
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Start with gratitude in prayer
Telling God what you are grateful for as well as living it out in your life is vital to the Christian life. We should be recognizing God’s blessings every day. I personally have found that prayer journaling has helped me to stop and focus on what I am thankful for. I spend time every morning thanking God for what I have, what He has done, what I am waiting on, and everything in between.
Being able to write down my prayers and thanksgivings allows me to reflect back on it and reminds me again and again to not take these things for granted and to continue to be thankful. It also helpes me recognize when God has answered prayers, encourgaing me to lift up thanks now and see His work in my life constantly. I also plan to start a Gratitude Journal this month to really invest in cleaning my heart and focusing more on being intentionally thankful in more areas of my life on a broader scale.
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,1 Timothy 2:1 CSB
7 being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.Colossians 2:7 CSB
Throughout scripture we see examples of thanking God in prayer, and are encouraged to do likewise. Every morning I thank God in my prayers first, and I encourage you to take up the habit as well. It has helped me to see God’s hand and blessing in my life more clearly, and take them for granted less often.
20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,Ephesians 5:20 CSB
The more we acknowledg God’s blessings in our life, the more grateful we become and the more natural it is to be actively grateful throughout our lives. Devote yourself to gratitude, and join me in developing more grateful hearts through intentional habits and centering our focus on Him every day.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.Colossians 4:2 CSB
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.Philippians 4:6 CSB
Grab the Free Gratitude Printables
To help us along, you can grab the free Thankfulness Bible Reading Plan, a free printable Gratitude Journal, and a printable with ideas about how to show gratitude as a Christian. Each were put together as free resources to encourage us all to live more thankful lives, intentionally and prayerfully. You can grab the Gratitude Journal and idea list when you signup for the mailing list, which will also set you up to recieve all kinds of other Bible studies, printable resouces and more.
Join the conversation and let us know in the comments below what has helped you develop a more grateful heart, as well as where you need some encouragement in your own journey. We are here to do life together, and part of that is sharing one anothers burdens and encouragements.
I am grateful for you being here and taking this journey with me, and I look forward to exploring more ways to express gratiutude together in the coming weeks.
Free Gratitude Printables
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