Attitude of Gratitude   3 comments

The blog hop continues our extra posts on thanksgiving. If you care to join us —
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Biblical Christianity holds some unique concepts that are often very different from other religious teachings in the world and certainly divergent to the point of deviant from the secular beliefs of our time.

When we read the teachings of Jesus in Matthew Chapters 5 -7, we see how these teachings continuously attack the problems of mankind in an effort to benefit all of the inhabitants of this planet.

A central teaching of Christianity is focused on the believer’s attitudes toward possessions and wealth. The Bible teaches it so well, but unfortunately many churches have totally missed the point.

“We have never had so much, yet we have never had so little. Churches are marching down the road of commercialism in droves, marketing Christ as a therapeutic product to meet all the self-centered, felt needs of consumer-oriented Americans. The spirituality is nothing more than self-idolatry and is in opposition to Christianity.” Jonathan Wells

For a variety of reasons, Americans have moved from an attitude of gratitude to an attitude of entitlement. American Christians, by and large, no longer need to say “silver and gold have we none”, but neither can most of us say “take up your bed and walk.” We have plenty of money and possessions. Even the “poor” in the United States would be appalled at the conditions the rich in third world countries or 1st century Israel lived in, but that doesn’t keep us from complaining about how it’s not fair that someone else has some level of living that is above our income.

Why are we so ungrateful for the amazing standard of living we have?

Well, there is no reason to give thanks for something if we feel it is owed to us in the first place. American life is one huge series of “gimme festivals” . Whether it’s holidays or wealth distribution through government programs we are characterized by a lack of gratitude for the rich blessings God has bestowed on the citizens of this country. We’re certain something isn’t fair — either that someone else has more than we do or that we have more than someone else.

Here’s a concept — I have exactly what God intends for me to have only because He chooses to give it to me. Yeah, yeah, yeah … I have a job, I work hard, I write fantastic novels and I make good choices in life. And none of that matters because everything that I have belongs to God and I’m just borrowing it for the time being.

It really all comes down to our attitude toward thanksgiving, which is that we feel we really aren’t grateful for what we have, so why should we thank anyone?

Ah, but why not do it for yourself?

Dr. Stephen Post is a physician at Case Western Medical School. In Guideposts magazine (November 2007, page 78) Dr. Post shared some insights on how people who are thankful for the things they have are benefited by that attitude of gratitude, even in the midst of struggles.

  • Just 15 minutes a day focusing on things you’re thankful for significantly increases your body’s natural antibodies.
  • Naturally grateful people are more focused mentally and measurably less vulnerable to clinical depression.
  • A grateful state of mind induces a physiological state called “resonance” that’s associated with healthier blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Caring for others is draining for anyone, but grateful caregivers are healthier and more capable than resentful grateful ones.
  • Recipients of donated organs who have the most grateful attitudes heal faster and reject the organs less often.

So how do I cultivate an attitude that is thankful for everything, even when my inner selfish wants to demand its way?

In my Bible studies I have learned a few things about God that help me to grow as a believer.

First, I accept that God owns all that I have. He’s just loaning it to me for a while to see what I do with it. Since it isn’t really mine, I can’t get too possessive about it. This doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with possessiveness now and then (I’m human!), but that my overall attitude (there’s that word again) is that it doesn’t belong to me, so I am grateful to God for allowing me to use it.

The Hebrew word for thanks occurs 31 times in the Book of Psalms. This worship book concentrates on praise to God–thanksgiving being a vital part of worship. “Thanks” occurs 50 times In the New Testament. The Hebrew word towdah and the Greek word eucharista convey a pure worship and are translated “thanks”.

Yes, the eucharist is meant to be one means of believers giving thanks to God. The Greek word has nothing to do with conveying magical blessings on us. It’s all about us lifting praises to God. Try approaching the Lord’s Supper with that attitude next time and see if it doesn’t mean more to you.

My church conducts the Lord’s Supper quarterly and our family also sometimes does the Lord’s Supper as an act of personal worship (often around Thanksgiving). I intend to revisit this in a blog hop post on rituals in the future, so I won’t get into details here, but my whole purpose in approaching the Lord’s Supper is to first confess to God my sins against Him and others, try within my means to set my wrongs against others to rights, and then to approach the table with the singular thought that Jesus died for my sins so that I don’t have to be guilty for them. When I do that, my desire to thank God for the things that He does for me soars, because after someone has died for you and taken all your sins upon Himself, it’s hard to quibble over whether your bank account is large enough to suit your desired lifestyle.

Giving … being thankful … feeling gratitude for our blessings is pure worship that culminates in service to others.

But that’s service is different topic for another time. Hey, this blog hop is going on all through the season. I have to save something for later.

3 responses to “Attitude of Gratitude

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  1. I believe Christianity can transform lives and make them wonderful, but most people don’t believe. So true what you say here

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this beautiful reminder that we have so much, yet don’t pause to appreciate it.


  3. Well said! We all have so much to be thankful for. Regardless of my personal circumstance, I’ve learned that I can always identify people who have bigger and worst challenges and situations. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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