GRATITUDE

Whether we realize it or not, we are blessed immensely. While many in the world go through life with no apparent sense of thankfulness for their blessings, surely Jesus’ disciples are not like that.

Multiple Bible passages make it clear that God wants His children to be grateful for their blessings. To “be thankful” ought to be a trait possessed by every Christian (Colossians 3:15). Again we read, “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17,18). Yes, even the food which we consume is to be “received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4).

We find it refreshing to see small children expressing gratitude to a parent, a sibling, a teacher, or one who is a stranger to them. When little ones have the habit of saying, “Thank you,” we know that someone has trained them to speak in that manner. Such children are blessed to be reared in such a way that those words are expected from them.

On the other hand, in contrast to the beauty of gratitude, most likely all of us also have seen the ugliness of ingratitude. The Bible speaks of perilous times in which people would be unthankful (2 Timothy 3:1,2). Timothy lived in such times nearly two thousand years ago (2 Timothy 3:5). So do we.

We recall the ten lepers who were healed by the Christ. Amazingly (or is it really that surprising?) only one of those men (ten per cent) returned to thank Jesus and give glory to God (Luke 17:11-17). As we read that Bible text, we want to scream out, “What is wrong with you ungrateful people?!” Yet, if we are not careful, we, too, might be guilty of taking blessings and kindness for granted. Does that sound familiar?

Can you think of any Bible characters who had things for which they should have been grateful? What about Timothy? He was blessed to have someone take a special interest in him and teach him God’s way of salvation when he was still a child (2 Timothy 3:15). Though the Bible does not directly declare it, we suspect that his early influence came from his believing mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).

Who else? Joseph, the son of Jacob, despite his intense trials and unfair treatment, had one who stuck with him through thick and thin. That, of course, was the God of heaven. Ruth was blessed to have a caring mother-in-law like Naomi. David was blessed to have a great friend like Jonathan. Esther was blessed to have a supportive relative (Mordecai). Peter was blessed to have a second chance after his disastrous denial of Jesus. Paul was blessed to have faithful co- laborers who assisted him throughout the Roman Empire.

We usually are able to recognize when others have been blessed. What about ourselves? Do we see the blessings which abound in our life? If we do, do we take the time to express our thankfulness to other humans as well as to our heavenly Father?

We have material blessings, which are part of the “all things” that the Creator showers upon us (Acts 17:25). If you doubt the extent of your material riches, it would not take much effort for you to seek out information to see how people in other places, including some in our home country, struggle to find daily food as well as adequate clothes and shelter.

We are blessed to serve a forgiving God. If He were not such a Being, we would not be able to get out of the predicament that is stated like this: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6;23).

We are blessed to have second chances. Our God is not simply “the God of second chances”; in fact, He is the God of multiple, yes, countless chances. The promise to Christians that their sins will be cleansed by Jesus’ blood covers every instance in which we humble ourselves and confess our sins (1 John 1:7-9).

Most of us are blessed to live in a place and in an era when wonderful, modern conveniences are available. I like conveniences, don’t you? Technology allows us to communicate, work, cook, travel, and carry out a variety of common tasks in ways that are not nearly as challenging or time- consuming as they were in past generations. Let us not be forgetful to thank our God for such.

We are blessed to have our family and friends. How many times have they come to our assistance and support unconditionally? Some of us regret that we came to realize too late (only after their passing) that our parents, siblings, or friends were special. Any chance to express our gratitude to them is now gone.

We are blessed to have opportunities. Some folks are just as intelligent as the wealthy CEO’s of the most financially-successful companies, but they lack the educational or occupational opportunities. They are quality folks, but simply live in a place or time when their chances are more limited. Let us not take our opportunities for granted. Instead, let us redeem the time and use them well (Ephesians 5:16).

Each of us can say with Paul that we are what we are by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10). We owe Him a great debt. Someone said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Let us not cease to be thankful. Let us be prepared to express our gratitude to our God and any humans who bless us in any way.

— Roger D. Campbell

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