Gratitude is a big deal. The Bible commands our gratitude, not simply to promote good manners, but as a way to honour God and as a way to inspire His people.
To the Colossians, the apostle Paul writes:
Be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:15b-17)
I note that Paul connects this exhortation to worship. It is as if worship is the action, and gratitude is the flavour of that action. I also note that what is called for here is not superficial. This is not about saying “Thank you” more often. But rather, we are reminded that our worship should be marked with gratitude of the “heart”.
We know from Jesus’ reaction to the Pharisees that technical obedience does not honour God. What honours God is when our hearts are engaged and inclined to Him.
I’m challenged by the frequency of gratitude called for by Paul…”whatever you do…do it all…giving thanks.” It’s as if no part of our life is to be untouched by heart-filled gratitude.
Once we get the importance of gratitude, once we get that our gratitude honours God, it follows that we would seek to develop a more grateful heart.
I don’t want to pretend to be an expert in this. I see a gulf between how I view gratitude (hugely important) and how I express gratitude (not nearly as frequently as I ought). It is with a sense of my own hypocrisy that I offer 3 practical ways to develop a more grateful heart:
1. Become familiar with the words of Christ
Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). Information helps our gratitude. Without a good working knowledge of the New Testament, we’ll only have a vague notion of what to thank Jesus for. But if we study with diligence we will grow in our awareness of all the ways Jesus provides for us.
2. Pray for a grateful heart
Pray for eyes to see God’s invisible hand at work in your life. Your joys are not the result of coincidence, fortune, or luck. The abundance of daily mercies you experience comes from the Lord. Pray for the ability to see God at work, and pray for the ability to respond appropriately for all that He is and has done for us. Pray for a grateful heart.
3. Spend more time with grateful people
I think we know from experience that behaviour is contagious. What I’m suggesting is that if you surround yourself with individuals who regularly express heartfelt gratitude for the Lord’s goodness, there’s a good chance it will rub off on you—particularly if you are working on the other 2 practical ways to develop a grateful heart!
Gratitude is important because it honours God for who He is and what He has done. But expressions of gratitude also have the capacity to positively impact our relationships. In other words, gratitude is not simply proper, but it is also practical.
I invite you to listen below to a message delivered at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well on October 11 (Canadian Thanksgiving). I pray that this message might inspire you as you seek honour God and build up others with your heartfelt expressions of gratitude.