Katherine Ash
Developing An Attitude of Gratitude

Last week's post about being intentional with our time with God (no matter how you choose to spend that time), lead me on to thinking about the kind of attitudes and lifestyle that help us to develop intimacy with God. Gratitude. By this I mean, having a thankful heart. Many psychologists agree that being grateful is a good quality to cultivate in ourselves, and by being grateful we are doing ourselves good. It should be of no surprise therefore, that God has a lot to say about being thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

I think that this is pretty clear. If you go back to the psychologists, they will explain that gratitude has lots of benefits. It builds marriages, deepens relationships, makes us live longer, reduces materialism, helps us sleep better, relax, makes us friendlier to be around, makes us more optimistic, makes us happier and we become more successful. Gratitiude stops us from focussing on ourselves, and the negative things that we might want to see change, and helps us to see the good around us. In fact, looking on the internet about how to develop an attitude of gratitude will show lots of articles about developing a gratitude journal, and all the benefits that it will bring to you.

James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."

So, when we start to be grateful, and recognise the good gifts that God has given us, things are going to change! We will start to see the giver of those gifts, our heavenly Father, in the everyday detail of our lives. We will start to find that as we are thankful, this will lead us to worship and intimacy with him.
This is quite straightforward when things are going well, but what about in the hard times? We still have lists of things to be thankful to God for. Our position before God does not change with our circumstances, and we can remind ourselves of all the things that we have seen Him do. As we do this, it builds faith in us, and helps us through the tough times.

I am not going to go through every verse in the New Testament with regards to gratitude, (see also 2 Corinthians 4:15, Colossians 3:17, Colossians 4:2, Philippians 4:6-7, ) and there are plenty of verses in the Old Testament too. I’m going to make the assumption that you are now convinced that being grateful to God is a good thing. Being convinced that gratitude is a good thing is great, but it won’t change anything unless you DO something about it. So, I’ve got a few ideas about things that you can do to help you!

Developing an “attitude of gratitude”

1) Write it down! Write down 3 things at the end of the day that you are grateful for- they don’t all have to be big! Finding a car parking space near the supermarket when it was raining is absolutely fine to write down if it has blessed you! At the end of 1 week, there will be 21 things that you are grateful for, the end of the month 90 (or so depending on how many days) and by the end of the year 1,095!
Why write it down? Because on the days that you are struggling to find good in, reading these entries will still remind you of how good God is!
Don’t forget to keep looking at these things!

2) Tell other people! Don’t keep these things to yourself. Tell your small group, talk about it to your friends and family. Encourage one another.

3) Remind yourself in a group setting. This evening, as a family we wrote another “Ash family gratitude board” (carefully illustrated by E) and told one another of the things that we are grateful to God for. There were lots of people (E also wanted to thank Jesus for a long list of animals), but there was also situations in which we have seen breakthrough, that it has been good to remind ourselves of. We ran out of space pretty quickly on our board. It was really encouraging, and E had a surprising number of things that she wanted to say “thank you Jesus” about too.

This is a great activity to try in your small group, perhaps to start your time of worship, or around the table after dinner as a family.

Gratitude Board

4) Expressing Our Gratitude As you consider all of the things that God has done for you, think about ways that you could express this love to the people around you. Consider ways in which you can express your thankfulness to God, by serving and blessing others. It does not need to be complicated. A card, encouraging words, flowers, food, a “random act of kindness” are all practical ways of passing on the blessing that God has poured onto your life.

There is so much more that I could say. But, I think that turning our gratitude for what God has done, and directing out to people who don’t yet know Jesus seems like a great place to end!