Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3: 16

As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the dichotomy that exists on this day in America. As a nation, out of 365 days of the year, we set aside ONE to be thankful for all we have and for the blessings we have been given. One. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the day of the year with the largest amount of ads in the newspapers reminding us of all the stuff we don’t have. Strange, isn’t it, that on this one day, we can’t even get through the morning without being lambasted with images of what we don’t have, instead of being able to be content and grateful for what we do have.

I think this is the way it often is in our lives, or at least the way Satan wants it to be. If we are always looking around at what others have, or what we don’t have, how can we ever be truly grateful for what we do have? And without a thankful heart, our lives begin to spiral down into entitlement and greed.

Gratitude counters greed because instead of always wanting more and always desiring things we don’t have we learn to be content and to appreciate what God has given us. And this is not limited to material goods. What about the way we look? Or the gifts we have or don’t have? Do we find ourselves yearning for beauty or abilities that others seem to have? We can become greedy not just for things, but for ideals and talents as well. But gratitude helps us to look in the mirror and see ourselves the way God does: as His precious child.

Gratitude counters a sense of entitlement because it helps us to not take things for granted. A spirit of entitlement causes us to expect good things to come our way—as if we deserve them. We don’t see our blessings as blessings, but as a result of our hard work or fortunate surroundings (being in the right place at the right time). We fail to see that we are gifted or blessed because of God’s love and mercy but because we are owed it for some reason. Like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.

So we have to ask ourselves today: do we have an attitude of gratitude? Or are we trapped in the clutches of greed and entitlement? One of the best ways to rekindle and attitude of gratitude is to recognize that at any given time in life, there is always someone better off than you and worse off than you. Always. And the more we can rejoice for those better off than us and the more we can attempt to help those worse off than us, the more our hearts will be filled with thankfulness each day for all that God is doing in our own lives.

Dear Jesus, grant me the gift of a thankful heart today. Through Your grace, help me to always acknowledge Your blessings in my life and be content with what I have. Amen.

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