Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 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 3:16-17).
Congressman Thaddeus Stevens brought a grieving mother to see President Lincoln. Her son had been condemned to die as a result of some unnamed crime. She wanted to intercede for his life. After hearing her out, Lincoln turned to the Congressman and said, “Mr. Stevens, do you think this is a case which will warrant my interference?” Stevens answered, “With my knowledge of the facts and the parties, I should have no hesitation in granting a pardon.” “Then, I will pardon him,” said Lincoln and he signed the papers.
A few minutes later, as Congressman Stevens and the mother walked down the stairs, she turned to him and exclaimed, “I knew it was a copperhead lie!”
Stevens said, “What do you refer to, madam?”
“Why, they told me he was an ugly looking man. He is the handsomest man I ever saw in my life!”
(From Re-electing Lincoln: The Battle for the 1864 Presidency” by John C. Waugh. p. 79.)
There’s something wonderful and transforming–magical even–about a grateful heart.
–A grateful heart is like swallowing sunshine. It gradually works its way to the surface and erupts into a smile that lasts. People look at you and say, “What are you so giddy about?” You answer, “I’m just so thankful!”
–A grateful heart is one blessed with a good memory. The very nature of gratitude means we are looking back with appreciation for what God has done, others have done, and what has taken place. That’s why the Lord told Israel in the wilderness that after they entered the Promised Land–where cities and orchards and farms will be given to them–they must “beware, lest you forget the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:11). A forgetful heart quickly becomes a stingy, resentful, demanding spirit. And such a spirit in the family becomes toxic for everyone.
–A grateful heart brings joy into every room it enters. I’ve been in small settings at church–a committee or the deacons or a class–where griping was going on. Then, someone with a smiling face, a sweet spirit, and a glad heart entered the room and started spreading the love. The complaining dried up in the face of all that love.
–A grateful heart is like oil to the machinery of every relationship. Think of family life in which someone is demanding and never satisfied. Then, think of that same family when everyone is so appreciative of the least little thing done for them. The difference is night and day.
–A grateful heart glorifies the Lord. A demanding, selfish spirit grieves His heart and gladdens the enemy.
–A grateful heart should be a requirement for everyone chosen for church leadership. Pity the pastor who finds that his key leader is ungrateful. (Most of us have been there and can show the scars.) Even more, pity the pastor who finds that many of his leadership people are ungrateful. Nothing he does will ever be enough.
–A grateful heart is standard equipment for Spirit-filled believers. It is not an extra, given only to the luxury editions.
One big thing–perhaps the biggest–about gratitude…
Things do not have to be perfect in order for you to be thankful.
The reason that is significant is a little lie the enemy is perpetrating. “If I tell him I’m grateful, he’ll take that as approval of what he’s doing. And there are still so many things he’s not doing right.” I can hear a church leader saying that about his pastor (who, in most cases, was moi!). As though a grateful spirit is something rare to be awarded only to those getting life down perfectly.
Friend, if you have to wait until everything is perfect in your life to give thanks to God, you’ll never do it.
Praise Him anyway. Thank Him for all He has done.
You are so blessed. Now, whether you realize it or not is another issue. But you are blessed beyond measure. Consider, for instance….
–You are living on the garden spot in the universe. Earth is the jewel of creation, and given to you and me at no charge. Have you thanked God lately for the privilege of living here? Of enjoying the birds and lakes and mountains and cool breezes? Did you think you made this world yourself? That you deserve to live here? It’s all a gift, friend, and we are the grateful recipients.
–God has not given you what you deserve. He has not dealt with you according to your sins. (That’s Psalm 103:10.) If you got what you deserve, you’d be in hell. And if you cannot see that, you should drop to your knees and repent of blindness.
–God has done everything necessary to get you and me to Heaven, except one tiny thing. He has done all we required to have us freed from the evil one, cleansed from sin, made new and filled with His Spirit, except for this: He has not forced it on us. He lets us decide. Revelation 3:20 says He brings Heaven’s blessings right up to our door and stops. The King of the Universe does the most amazing thing then. He knocks and asks permission to bless us.
–God has prepared a place for us (John 14) and calls it “a kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25). It is reserved for us (I Peter 1). We are going to Heaven!
Why aren’t you giving thanks day and night, friend?
Why aren’t you grinning like a possum, as we Alabama boys say, and acting all giddy?
Why aren’t you waking up with joy and sunshine in your heart because “this momentary light affliction is working for us an exceeding weight of glory far beyond all comparison!” (That’s 2 Corinthians 4.)
Give thanks with a grateful heart;
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.