"When we take simple blessings for granted as if they were owed to us, or conversely, when we start to think that our house, our car, our wardrobe, or our general station in life is beneath what we deserve, ingratitude finds all the oxygen it needs to thrive.
So how do we cultivate a life of gratitude? There are many ways to cultivate gratitude, here are a few:
Join us for this study! Each weekly post will be posted on Tuesday mornings at 9:00 here on the blog, June 6 - August 1. Feel free to discuss the book and share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Let's make cultivating gratitude a priority in our lives this summer!
Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude
There is never a time in our hearts as Christians when we are more grateful than when we remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He took every one of our sins on Himself. He took our punishment. He took our guilt and shame. We no longer need to fear. We are forgiven, and we are grateful. Grateful for the Gospel that has united us to God. Because He lives, we now are free to live!
It is unfathomable and difficult to know how to express our gratitude for such a sacrifice. Each time we come to the Lord’s table and partake of the bread and juice that represent the body and blood of our Savior, we are expressing gratitude. We are coming back to the gospel and our grateful hearts are overflowing.
When you find yourself having an ungrateful, complaining spirit, remember the gospel. Preach the gospel to yourself every day, and a heart of gratitude will return.
Where were you when God found you? Guilty. Far away from God. Unable to earn His favor.
David remembered his beginnings in Psalm 51.
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5
“We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.” —R.C. Sproul
Because of our sin we are under the condemnation of God, and therefore hopeless without Him.
“Into this hopeless situation comes the undeserved grace of God through Jesus Christ.” —Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
“...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Romans 5:20
“…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“ For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” Titus 2:11
We did not go looking for Him, but in His love and mercy He sought us.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
From guilt, to grace, to gratitude. The gospel is truly good news! It is the beginning of all our gratitude, and we must continue to return to it if we want to consistently live thankful lives. The measure of the grace that we have received should result in gratitude of the same measure.
Abundant grace—abundant gratitude.
Since the gospel is the starting place of true gratitude, let’s consider gratitude from the perspective of those who have never received the gospel. Gratitude has an Object. We cannot be thankful without having someone to thank.
Christians aren’t the only ones who celebrate Thanksgiving, who enjoy a sunrise or a sunset, and who are grateful for the food that is on their table at the end of the day. When someone who has not received God’s gift of salvation is thankful, their thankfulness many times is directed towards an object. They thank the tree that gave them the wood to burn the fire. They thank the turkey that gave its life so they could be nourished. What about the beauty of the mountains? The ocean? Who do they thank for these?
To sincerely say “Thank you,” there must be a “you.” Someone to thank. That Someone ultimately is God, and in order to thank Him there must be some level of trust in Him. Trust in God is found only in the heart of a believer. This is why unbelievers direct their thanksgiving to the created instead of the Creator. There are at least three distinctions between the believer’s gratitude and the unbelievers.
True Christian gratitude involves:
“Christ-less” gratitude involves tossing out “thanksgivings into the air, not sure if they should be directed toward good luck, good breaks, good fortune, or the good Lord.” --Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights….” James 1:17
We as Christians are leading the way in giving thanks to the One who is worthy of all our praise. The gratitude that wells up in our hearts for God’s good and perfect gifts will direct this world’s attention to Him. We are displaying His glory and even causing others to give Him thanks along with us as they open their hearts to trust Him and praise His name.
“The beauty of Christian gratitude is that one little act of thanksgiving on our part—when directed toward or inspired by its rightful Recipient—can bound and rebound from one end of the kingdom to the other, not only blessing God, not only benefiting us, but even lodging itself in places and in people where God’s love might never have been received any other way.” —Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
True Christian gratitude has no limits as it is focused on a limitless God. While an unbeliever is focused on his limited self-gratification, the believer sets His eyes on the many tangible demonstrations of the steadfast love of the Lord.
“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like the great deep….” Ps. 36:5-6
“The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your delights.” Psalm 36:7-8
There is no limit to what God has given, is giving, and will give to those who love Him. And there is no limit to our thanksgiving and praise for all He has provided through Jesus Christ.
“…No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!” Psalm 84:11b,12
The water cycle gives us a beautiful picture of the never ending cycle of God’s gifts and our thanksgivings to Him. Water comes down from above, replenishes the earth, and then evaporates to return to the clouds until it falls again. Much the same way, God’s graces, His blessings, His gifts come pouring down upon us and as we return thanks, it keeps that cycle going—grace pouring down and thanks going up. What a beautiful thing to witness! So many lives are being refreshed and so much fruit is being produced by it all.
That is why we are compelled to choose gratitude!
How has remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross helped you to be more grateful?
Christian Gratitude Journal for Women
This Christian Gratitude Journal for Women is produced by Pretty Simple Press. It's a 52-week inspirational guide to a life with more prayer and less stress.
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