PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV). The New Century Version renders this scripture thus: “Give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.”
A river can dry up, have little water, be full of water, or overflow its banks. God wants your life to overflow with gratitude to Him. Writing to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul told them to be rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith, as they had been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7). Some translations render “abounding in it with thanksgiving” as “overflowing with gratitude” (Christian Standard Bible; Holman Christian Standard Bible; New American Standard Bible). Let your life overflow with gratitude to God.
Unfortunately, thanksgiving is missing in many people’s lives because they don’t appreciate what God has done for them. Neither do they show enough gratitude to others for the kindness shown to them. Some only show little gratitude to God and humans.
Many times, people are ungrateful because they’re concerned about what they wanted but haven’t gotten. They’re ungrateful because they expected much but they were given little. But shouldn’t they be grateful for even that which they considered little? “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1 NKJV).
The grateful immoral woman
Luke 7:36-50 talks about the grateful immoral woman who profusely showed her gratitude to the one who had forgiven her much sin. This was how Jesus explained her action of anointing His feet weeping and using her hair to clean His feet. Jesus said to Simon the Pharisee, His host, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47 NKJV). But Simon didn’t do the customary anointing of his guest, Jesus, with oil. Shouldn’t you be grateful to God for the forgiveness of your sins or you consider your sin and God’s forgiveness little?
The grateful leper
Luke 17:11-19 talks about the grateful leper. Out of the ten lepers Jesus healed, this Samaritan leper was the only one who came back to show gratitude. The overflowing gratitude in him wouldn’t allow him to go that day and come back another day with thanks. He came back immediately after his healing manifested. He aborted the trip to show himself to the priest to confirm if he had been healed. He went back to thank the One who healed him. Have you forgotten how God healed you? Don’t you think your heart should continue to overflow with thanksgiving?
Where are you on the scale of gratitude?
Is your life flowing with gratitude? Do you freely show gratitude to God for all He has done for you? How much appreciation do you show to people for their kindness to you? Those whose lives overflow with gratitude don’t need exhortation from anyone to do thanksgiving. It is their lifestyle. +-They’re grateful to God and to people who have blessed their lives in various ways.
Psalm 23:5 says, “My cup overflows with blessings” (NLT). Just as you desire your cup to overflow with blessings, you should ensure your heart overflowing with thanksgiving to God. The blessings are for you; the thanksgiving is for God. Become a passionate praiser! Be an exuberant thanks giver (1 Chronicles 16:8; Psalms 75:1; 95:1-6; 50:14; 69:30; 100:1-5; 103:1-5; 136:1-26; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:15).
Attributes of grateful people
1. Grateful people love God and have faith in Him. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (NKJV). Grateful people are God-centred not self-centred or problem-centred. This is why they give thanks to God no matter what and notwithstanding their circumstances.
2. Grateful people know that God loves them. They know it – not that they think so. They know that God loves them, no matter what happens to them or what they’re going through or have gone through, and that God would take care of their interests.
God’s love for them determines their self-worth. They don’t allow their valuables, achievements, or successes to determine their value; they don’t allow failure or disappointment to devalue them. They know God’s love is greater than answers to prayer. They also know that a delayed answer isn’t proof that God doesn’t love them. They’re established in God’s love for them. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39 NKJV).
3. Grateful people are positive about life. They have a positive outlook on life. They always have positive expectations. This flows from their faith in God and the knowledge that God loves them and will take care of them. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV). This is maintaining a positive attitude in the midst of negative events. Grateful people are hopeful and, therefore, not bitter.
4. Grateful people are joyful. They’re generally more joyful than the ungrateful. “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b NKJV). Grateful people know there are things beyond their control. They’re realistic, knowing that things may not go their way every time – they may win some, and lose some – but God would still work all things together for their good. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV). Because of this attitude, grateful people are less prone to depression. They rejoice always as the Bible says to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. They’re not a captive of any circumstance. They count it all joy when they fall into various trials (James 1:2).
5. Grateful people enjoy more satisfaction in life than the ungrateful. Though they’re not living a problem-free or perfect life, they make the most of life because of their Bible-based philosophy of life. They don’t go about complaining about the negatives. They always focus on the positives. “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Ephesians 5:16-17 NLT).
6. Grateful people handle better negative circumstances of life. They handle frustration, disappointment, failure, death, etc. better than the ungrateful people. This attitude is borne out of the knowledge that human beings live in an imperfect world and that this present earth is not their permanent abode. There is an appointment with death and judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
They know that they are citizens of heaven and this earth is not their home. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV).
Grateful people know they’re strangers and pilgrims, who’re on this earth temporarily. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland” (Hebrews 11:13-14 NKJV).
Even amid life’s crises, grateful people still focus on the big picture and see enough reasons to thank God. This is why even in the most devastating life crisis, suicide never comes to their minds. They receive encouragement from the Word of God and see enough exciting things to keep on living.
7. Grateful people don’t get bogged down with regrets. They learn from their mistakes and negative events that happen to them and move on with their lives giving thanks to God for everything. Paul learnt how to handle lack and how to enjoy abundance. The Astle Paul says in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV).
The New Living Translation renders the verse thus: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” Grateful people know they can trust God with their mistakes and failures; they can approach God in repentance and receive His forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).
8. Grateful people are humble. They know there’s nothing they have that they’ve not received from God. Everything they have is a gift from God and they’re mere stewards who’ll give an account one day. Therefore, there’s really nothing to brag about. “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV).
Grateful people are not proud before God or man. “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27 NKJV). Grateful people don’t feel they’re better than others; they don’t look down on others because “Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one; He is mighty in strength of understanding” (Job 36:5 NKJV). Here is Hannah’s warning in her prayer: “Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the LORD is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3 NKJV).
9. Grateful people tend to have healthy interpersonal relationships. They have a sweet spirit that makes many people comfortable being with them because they’re not self-centred, selfish, judgmental, critical, gossip, bitter, or unforgiving. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV). Because grateful people are positive about life, others enjoy their company, and they’re a source of encouragement to those around them.
10. Grateful people are more prone to enjoying better physical, psychological and social health than ungrateful people. Because grateful people don’t manifest irritating attitudes in their relationships, they are more prone to enjoying better physical, psychological and social health than ungrateful people. What they sow, they reap. Their joyful appreciation of God and fellow humans impacts positively on their overall health.
Research on the effect of gratitude on physical health, psychological wellbeing, and relationship with others by a leading gratitude researcher, Prof. Robert A. Emmons, found that gratitude has a lot of physical, psychological, and social benefits.
As regards the physical benefits of gratitude, those who practise gratitude have stronger immune systems. They are less bothered by aches and pains and have lower blood pressure. They exercise more and take better care of their health. In addition, they sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking.
On the psychological benefits, grateful people enjoy higher levels of positive emotions; they are more alert, alive, and awake; they have more joy and pleasure, and they enjoy more optimism and happiness. And with regard to the social benefits, grateful people are more helpful, generous, compassionate, forgiving, outgoing, and feel less lonely and isolated.
Conclusion: King David, a habitual thanks giver and prolific praiser, said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2 NKJV). The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Don’t be an ungrateful person. Let your heart overflow with gratitude to God for all He has done in your life, especially this year. In addition, show sincere appreciation to those God has used for you. Don’t take people for granted.
No act of kindness is too small to show gratitude for. Appreciate people and your life will appreciate. Ingratitude is an abuse of your benefactor or helper, and anyone who persists in this negative habit is taking a regrettable journey into a desert of desolation. Remember, you’ll always reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7).
If you have not given your life to Jesus, do so now by taking the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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