Glorifying God Through Gratitude

Ingratitude is a refusal to approach your life in light of God’s character.

Psalm 69:30, “I will praise God’s name in song, and glorify Him with Thanksgiving”

 

Gratitude Superior to Religious Rituals (Psalm 69:31)

 

Gratitude is part of everything in the Christian life.  In all situations be give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). Be thankful instead of anxious (Php 4:6).  Giving thanks is the alternative of obnoxious, obscene, foolish talk and coarse joking (Eph. 5:4).   Be thankful when praying for your political leaders (1 Tim. 2:1). Thankfulness expressed in song (Ps 147:7).  Christian service meant to make others thankful to God (2 Cor. 4:15; 9:11). Express gratitude in prayer (Dan. 6:10).  For answered prayer (Ps. 118:21)

 

What Gratitude Is:

Intentionally aware of how good God is and has been to you, and that awareness producing an enlarged love and adoration towards Him.

 

Essentially it is praising someone for some good they’ve done to you.  Biblically it means acknowledging God’s goodness to you and praising Him for it.   Acknowledging God’s gifts, recognizing Him for His goodness, Praising Him for His Generosity, Holding Him in High Esteem for His blessings, crediting Him for all you have.

 

Generic gratitude is idolatry.  When someone has gratitude, but doesn’t specifically credit God for what they are appreciative of, they are committing idolatry.  Gratitude/ appreciation/ thankfulness, is a response to the Someone who has blessed you. So, to give that recognition, that credit to someone or something or nothing specific at all – anything other than God – makes the very gratitude a person feels idolatrous.

 

Gratitude to God for His Attributes

 

His Goodness “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever” Psalm 106:1; 118:29; 136:1

 

His Sufficiency, (Ps 50:10; 2 Cor. 12:9-10…Jesus’ “I AM statements in John’s Gospel)

 

His Faithfulness (Ps. 34:9-10, song lyrics today: “My God is Faithful”)

 

His Salvation, Psalm 118:21

 

Being Thankful vs Feeling Thankful

One the one hand we see Christian thankfulness is an outgrowth of Christian living.  “I don’t feel thankful.”  That can happen.  So what do you do?  Just wait around for the next feeling of gratitude to come along?  No. You stir it up within you. Over and over again the Bible says, “Be thankful”, not, “feel thankful”…. “Give thanks”, not, “Give thanks when you feel like it”.  Feelings and circumstances shouldn’t be allowed to diminish our thankfulness. What that means is by God’s grace, we are able to be thankful regardless of what circumstances we find ourselves in.  

As a Christian, you now have a God-given capacity for thankfulness you didn’t have before and an ability to fill that capacity.  One of the distinctions between children and adults is that while children act according to their feelings adults have learned to act despite their feelings.  Essential to being a grown-up and “adulting” in life is realizing that most of your feelings if acted on will ruin your life and others’ too. Laziness, frustration, annoyance, anger, physical attraction, self-pity/moping/poor-me, etc. are not the stuff of adulthood.  That’s exactly true when it comes to the distinction between spiritual childhood and maturity. Mature Christians have learned not to act on impulses, feelings, desires and so forth. Mature Christians have learned to let God’s word be the guiding rule for their behavior.

One more thing:  maturing believers learn that the feelings of thankfulness can be stimulated.  Feeling gratitude can be stirred up by us when we set our minds on the right things.  Ungratefulness is stimulated by thinking of the wrong things – how we’re somehow being slighted or cheated or left out or overlooked or wronged or going without.  Thinking unbiblically like that fosters ungratefulness, so, thinking about the right things will stir up thankfulness. You can control your thoughts and your thoughts can train your feelings.

Ingratitude is the Root of Sin

Let us make no mistake, Beloved, thanklessness is sin. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him nor gave thanks to Him”. Notice how closely tied those two go together – glorifying God and giving Him thanks. Giving thanks to God is so closely tied with giving Him glory that you cannot be glorifying Him apart from thanking Him.

 

Ingratitude is a refusal to approach your life in light of God’s character.  It may even be a practical denial of God’s attributes. Which is to say then, that ingratitude is born of unbelief.  It is at odds with the whole idea of faith. If the Bible tells us God is all these wonderful things but we act like, talk like, live like He’s not, its because we don’t believe what the Bible is telling us.  Unbelief. And it leads to ingratitude. It’s sin.

 

Ingratitude is Rooted in Satan

Ungratefulness is sin, and we see why the more we see it has its roots in Satan. Ungratefulness comes from believing the lie of Satan that God is holding out on you, and that you deserve more from Him. Thanklessness, I believe, was one important reason why Adam and Eve fell in the Garden. Think of it, there were how many thousands of trees in the Garden for them to eat from. God said they could eat from any of them. There was just one that was off limits.

 

But, when Satan deceived them, I believe he was able to make them think that God was holding out on them (“For God knows….” 3:5). He succeeded in making them center all their attention on the only tree they couldn’t have, and when they did that they forgot all the other trees God had freely and generously given them. They became ungrateful, thankless, and suspicious of God’s goodness. They believed a lie and acted based on a lie about God. Even though God had given them all the trees and prohibited just one, they had acted like He did the opposite. They acted like God gave them only one tree to eat from and prohibited every other tree in the Garden. When you are thankless you will never know contentment. You will lust and covet.

 

***Their inability to appreciate what they had made it impossible for them to be content with what they had, which led them to lust for more than what they had, and justify their lust for wanted by claiming they were entitled to it, until finally they violated God’s command in order to possess what they were forbidden to have.

 

Rather than thinking like God, they began to think like Satan; they began to think they were entitled to the fruit that God had forbidden. Ungratefulness is a Satanic attitude and has no place in the life of a believer. When we are in a frame of mind where we think God owes us, we are never more wretched. “Who has given to God that God should repay him?” (Rom 11:34) “Who has a claim against Me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to Me.” (Job 41:11).

 

What ought we to thank God for?

The Bible shows us many things we are to be thankful for.

-hearing your prayers (Jn 11:41; 1 Jn 5:14)

-the faith in others (Rms 1:8; 1 Cor 1:4; Col 1:4)

-for your food (1 Cor 10:30; 1 Tim 4:3-4)

-for people’s genuine care for one another (2 Cor 8:16; Col 1:4)

-thank God for other Christians (Eph 1:16; 1 Thess 1:2; Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; 2 Thess 1:3; 2:13; Phm 1:4)

-for other people’s Christian service (Phil 1:3)

-for the encouragement that comes from others in fellowship (Acts 28:15)

-for the needs of Christians being met by other Christians (2 Cor 9:12,14)

-For Christ giving us strength to serve, and the privilege to serve Him (1 Tim 1:12)

-for being set free from sin and death (Rom 7:25; 6:17; 1 Cor 11:24)

-Answered prayers (2 Cor 1:11)

-For effectively ministering the Gospel of Christ (2 Cor 2:14)

-For everything (Eph 5:20)

-Because God reigns over everything (Rev 11:17)

-For His grace towards us (2 Cor 4:15)

 

Thanksgiving Robbers

Don’t let your thanksgiving be burglarized. Keep a watch out for things that will rob you of a thankful heart.

 

First, an attitude of entitlement. If you believe you are entitled to things, you will feel slighted when you don’t get them. The problem is that you focus all your attention on what you don’t have and feel you deserve while becoming blind to all that you do have.

 

Start by changing your attitude to say, “I deserve nothing, and, if all that I have I have received as a gracious gift from God.” First Corinthians 4:7 says “what do you have that you did not receive?” Then start listing all your blessings. Then go through the NT and list all the blessings you have in Christ.

 

Second, watch out for anger. Anger usually comes from an attitude that says I’ve been wronged. Our attention focuses so much on how we’ve been wronged, and the emotion of anger is so dominating, we find that where there should be gratitude for what God has given us, we are angry instead. There’s only one way to get rid of anger, which is tied to the 3rd Robber.

 

Thirdly, watch out for unforgiveness. Refusing to forgive someone for how they have hurt you will cause anger and bitterness in your own heart. There will be no room for thanksgiving when we won’t forgive. Give forgiveness. In Colossians 3:13, in the same context as our verse this morning, Paul says this, “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Forgiveness is the key to being rid of anger and making room for the overflowing thankfulness and joy that Paul speaks of.

 

Fourthly, watch out for Pride. Pride says I have to be first, the best, the most important, the most noticed and the most admired. Pride makes us think that we got it all on our own and did all by ourselves. Pride makes us think that what we have been given actually we deserved. It was owed to us. Pride makes us so self-absorbed that we become totally insensitive to and unmoved by the nice things we have received. They’re taken for granted.

 

Gifts to You from Gratitude:

When you let gratitude in here are some gifts she will bring to you:

First, Joy.  Joy is a gift that gratitude gives you.  

Second, gratitude gifts you with freedom from self-pity.

Third, freedom from selfishness and self-centeredness.  An obsession with yourself dissolves when you practice gratitude

Fourth, gratitude gifts you with usefulness.  Think of it, you stop with your pre-occupation with yourself and you can begin to think of others and then be used by God in their lives to bless them.  

Fifth, gratitude shifts your focus to see your blessings and the many reasons you have to be content.  Meditate on the good things you do have and stop overlooking them (Take note of all the green lights, not just the red ones!)

Plug in.  The other day my computer battery was low so I plugged in the cord to the wall.  A couple minutes later my computer went dead.  I thought, “What?  I just plugged it in.”  Then I looked again and saw that while I plugged it into the wall I didn’t plug the other end into my computer.  What I needed was available, I just hadn’t connected to it on my side.  All the blessings of God are available.  Have we made the connection on our side?  We do that by putting our faith in Jesus.  He is the connection between us and God.  When we receive Him as our Savior all that God has for us is channeled into our lives.  And for that we have all the reason in the world, and in heaven, to be grateful.

 

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