Gratitude is Uniquely Christian
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.” Psalm 57:9
“Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100:3-5
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” Colossians 1:3
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”- Colossians 2:6-7
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 2 Thess 5:18
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20
One day I want to write a sermon that is almost entirely scripture to build and craft a point. As I have been mulling on thankfulness after the holiday season if there was ever a sermon to do it, there is a deep theme throughout all of Scripture that gratitude is one of the clear markings of one that has been changed by God. What if thankfulness or gratitude is one of the lost characteristics of the church? I tend to believe that in a world that spews ungratefulness and arrogance, what if the Church swam upstream and chose a winsome gratitude? What is more counter culture today than these words from Paul:
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Theologically speaking gratitude is something that is uniquely Christian. It is not possible to produce gratitude outside God providing it. Gratitude is one of the marks of the works of grace. And ungratefulness / or lack of thanks to God is a sign of the evil days (2 Timothy 3:1-4). Moreover, Paul said that unrighteousness is marked by those that aren’t thankful (Romans 1:18-23). It is fair to say biblically speaking that the mark of an unbelieving heart is to be ungrateful. It’s what we should expect for the world. It doesn’t align for one changed by God to display this kind of disgruntled, complaining, anger, bitterness, entitlement, victimization, that has consumed culture.
Johnathan Edwards talks about this specifically in his work “Religious Affections”. Edwards talks about two different types to gratitude or thankfulness. Natural gratitude, and gracious (or true) gratitude.
- Natural gratitude is thankfulness for blessings received. It is material, it is conditional, and it is a common sentiment. An appreciation for good things given to us. This produces happiness. But when life is viewed as me centered than our thankfulness or gratitude is determined on things done or given to us. If this is our worldview, at its core it is anti Christian and not the thankfulness referred in Scripture. Natural gratitude is not enough for someone to stir in them a love for God. When our love for God starts with what he gives us, then we abuse God for his gifts.
- Gracious (true) gratitude is a thankfulness that is born of grace (2 Corinthians 4:15). Gracious gratitude gives thanks to God for WHO HE IS. It exists irrespective of the movable, conditional things given or taken away from us. This is the work of grace in the life of a believer. When their thankfulness, or heart posture is thankful for the IMMOVABLE person of God even amidst the MOVABLE conditions of their circumstances.
Do we have this kind of gratitude? Is this work of grace person in your life?
God alone is where we go to produce this gratitude. And God alone is found in the pages of His Scripture. Discover his voice with Sola Journals where Scripture is made Simple.