An attitude of gratitude


Barry Pettit - Lead Minister - South Side Church of Christ - www.southsidewch.com



After more than two decades of ministry to people, I have come to believe that a failure to give thanks is at the heart of much, if not most, of the sense of gloom, despair, and despondency that is so pervasive even among believers today. The “attitude of gratitude” is something that desperately needs to be cultivated in our hearts, our homes, and our society. Its presence brings a host of other blessings, while its absence has profound, lethal repercussions. Today I encourage you to consider with me some of the contrasts between a grateful and an ungrateful heart:

A grateful person is humble, while ingratitude reveals pride.

The grateful person feels a great sense of unworthiness: “I have so much more than I deserve.” But an ungrateful person says, “I deserve so much more than I have.” I have always been impressed by the grateful spirit of Ruth. Widowed after less than a decade of marriage, an impoverished stranger in a foreign land, and “condemned” to live with her embittered mother-in-law, Ruth sought a way to support herself and Naomi. When she was discovered by Boaz, who extended to her the right to glean in his fields, she fell all over herself trying to express gratitude for his gracious gesture: At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10) Under similar circumstances, I might have been more likely to think, or even say to others, “It’s the least he could do!” But the humility of this young widow is seen in her response of gratitude to the least little kindness shown her by another.

A grateful person is easily contented, while an ungrateful person is subject to bitterness and discontent.

Years of counseling with people who are chronically unhappy, depressed, frustrated, and emotionally unstable have convinced me that these “disorders” often stem from an unthankful heart, regardless of any external circumstances that may appear to provide an explanation. An ungrateful person holds tightly to his “rights” and sets himself up for hurt and disappointment when God or others fail to perform according to his expectations. But the individual who has yielded all his rights to God sees all of life through thankful eyes and has no room in his heart for selfish, destructive emotions.

A grateful heart will be revealed and expressed by thankful words, while an ungrateful heart will manifest itself in murmuring and complaining.

A grateful spirit is what enables people to view and respond to the most painful circumstances in life with thanksgiving. As one person observed, “Some people complain because God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns.” Thankful believers from the past have much to teach us in this matter. Matthew Henry, the well-known commentator of the 19th century, was once accosted by robbers. Reflecting on the experience, he wrote in his diary, “Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed!”

We are called to be thankful people, to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits that we have received from God and others. We are all debtors, and we repay those debts with grateful hearts and words of thanksgiving. It is not enough to feel gratitude in our hearts. That gratitude must be communicated to those to whom we are indebted. You and I cannot be truly free, though we have been released from bondage, if our hearts and tongues have ceased to give thanks. Perhaps right now would be a good time to take a trip to Calvary, to kneel before our incredible Savior, to look into His loving face, and to say, “Oh, Lord Jesus, thank You!

A grateful person is easily contented, while an ungrateful person is subject to bitterness and discontent.

Years of counseling with people who are chronically unhappy, depressed, frustrated, and emotionally unstable have convinced me that these “disorders” often stem from an unthankful heart, regardless of any external circumstances that may appear to provide an explanation. An ungrateful person holds tightly to his “rights” and sets himself up for hurt and disappointment when God or others fail to perform according to his expectations. But the individual who has yielded all his rights to God sees all of life through thankful eyes and has no room in his heart for selfish, destructive emotions.

A grateful heart will be revealed and expressed by thankful words, while an ungrateful heart will manifest itself in murmuring and complaining.

A grateful spirit is what enables people to view and respond to the most painful circumstances in life with thanksgiving. As one person observed, “Some people complain because God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns.” Thankful believers from the past have much to teach us in this matter. Matthew Henry, the well-known commentator of the 19th century, was once accosted by robbers. Reflecting on the experience, he wrote in his diary, “Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed!”

We are called to be thankful people, to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits that we have received from God and others. We are all debtors, and we repay those debts with grateful hearts and words of thanksgiving. It is not enough to feel gratitude in our hearts. That gratitude must be communicated to those to whom we are indebted. You and I cannot be truly free, though we have been released from bondage, if our hearts and tongues have ceased to give thanks. Perhaps right now would be a good time to take a trip to Calvary, to kneel before our incredible Savior, to look into His loving face, and to say, “Oh, Lord Jesus, thank You! Thank You! Thank You!” This Sunday at South Side we will talk about having an attitude of gratitude and how it can change our life! Worship begins at 10:45, and we would love you see you there!

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Barry Pettit

Lead Minister

South Side Church of Christ

www.southsidewch.com

Barry Pettit is lead minister at South Side Church of Christ in Washington Court House.

Barry Pettit is lead minister at South Side Church of Christ in Washington Court House.