Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I spoke with several people this week struggling with very different circumstances, but all needing to learn a very simple and yet powerful way of life. It is a way of life that I have by no means mastered and require the constant encouragement of Scripture to even be reminded of its existence. This glorious way of life that allows a person to live with peace and joy is the life of perpetual gratitude.
When a person is grateful, their mindset, emotions, and spirit experience a lift. Those that are grateful see life differently. They feel better. They smile more. They worry less. They love with greater zeal. They dream bigger dreams. They stand a little taller. They give more because they need less. They find fault less often and encourage more. They make the world a better place by seeing the good that is and the good that can be.
Why is that? How does gratitude do all of that?
1. It enables a person to perceive what is good. Many times are minds are drawn to the negative. We see what we don't have rather than what do have. We hear the criticism and not the compliment. We feel the pain and ignore the victory of accomplishment. Gratitude provides a powerfully positive perspective.
2. It enables a person to appreciate the positive. When we are grateful, we recognize that things could be worse and choose to be thankful for the good that is. I was able to pick up my two year old this morning and carry him to bed. Sure it was 5:30 am, but still... I have a healthy 2 year old son. I have the strength to lift him. I have legs that can carry me and him. I have a home to hold him in. I am blessed.
3. It honors the gifts of others. Everything that is good comes from God. (James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.) When we are grateful, we are acknowledging God's mercy and grace. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we don't deserve. In His mercy God does not give us what our actions deserve. I deserve far more pain and hurtful consequence for my sin. We all do. Not only does God not give us what we deserve; God actually gives us what we don't deserve. God has given me eternal life in Christ, a wife that loves me, children that are healthy, a home for us to live in, a church to serve and do life with, and friends to carry burdens with. And that does not even take into account the air I breathe, the lungs that breathe the air, the heart that beats without me telling it to, and the mind that is capable of perceiving it all but doesn't have to because God has made it possible for us to dream and hope and believe.
The list could go on and on. Suffice it to say, anyone and everyone has the ability to be grateful for something. We deserve nothing, but we have all been given something. Those that can appreciate God's gifts consistently live well.
How grateful are you? Your contentment level will tell you.