Why Gratitude?

Why is gratitude so important?

First, consider the opposite. Being ungrateful. Complaining. Negativity. Is that the kind of person you want to be? Is that the kind of person others will want to be around?

Second, as you think, so eventually you become. Think critical, negative, thankless thoughts and that is the kind of person you will become. But think along the lines of gratitude and that thinking will shape who you become, the words you say, and the acts you do.

Third, Christians, by definition, must be thankful. We are thankful for the grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness of God. What we did not deserve, we received.

Practicing Gratitude

Here are FIVE prompts or stepping stones that can help you grow in the way of gratitude. Ask these questions and answer them as best you can. If answers are not easy, then resolve for a better day tomorrow.

ONE: In what ways was I challenged today?
Why is this a stepping stone for gratitude? Because whenever you are challenged, that is an opportunity for learning, growth, and change. Challenge disturbs the status quo. Challenge disrupts stagnation. Be grateful for challenge and the possibilities that emerge from it.

TWO: Who did I connect with today?
In other words, who were the people in my life today? See each person as a gift. Life is all about relationships. We are relational beings. We are meant to do life together with others. Every person you encounter is a gift, an opportunity, a blessing, and a springboard to more LIFE. Treasure these people. Savor these encounters. Fully engage with each person. Seek to be a blessing as well as to be blessed.

THREE: What inspired me today?
What inspired you? When are you most inspired? I am inspired by music and literature. A good quote inspires me. I am inspired by people who are doing good things and doing God's work. I am inspired by stories of perseverance. I am inspired by kindness. I don't need to be on the receiving end of it. I am just inspired whenever I see others being kind (and good). Look around you for inspiration.

FOUR: Where did I find joy, laughter, and happiness?
While this varies for most of us, there are probably things we have in common. Many years ago, when I would read The Reader's Digest, there was a column called "Laughter is the Best Medicine." Laughter is good for you. We find joy in people (see #2). I laugh when I look at the elephant feed in my Instagram account, especially the baby elephants. And speaking of babies and children--another source of joy. I laugh out loud when I read old comics, Calvin and Hobbes in particular. A good (clean) joke is always fun.

FIVE: What do I have to look forward to tomorrow?
How about this? Just being alive. Life is a gift. Every new day is a gift. The mercies of the Lord are new every day. Every day is a fresh start, a second chance, a new beginning, for those who have eyes to see. While we want to fully live in TODAY, there is also benefit in anticipating the grace of tomorrow. While Jesus says we should not be anxious about tomorrow, he never counsels us not to anticipate tomorrow. In other words, avoid being negative about tomorrow and practice being positive about tomorrow.

Try this for a week and see the results.

Add your own stepping stones that will foster gratitude.

A Final Thought

The Bible refers to all this gratitude as praise and worship. Give thanks to the Lord. You will find that phrase used 14 times in the psalms, the Bible's book of praise and worship. The Book of Psalms also says "praise God" 49 times.

Paul says rejoice in all things. Be grateful.

Sing the great doxology of the church:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him all creatures here below,
Praise him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

Gratefully Yours,
Pastor Brian Rice
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