As we enter into the season of Thanksgiving (which some seem to want to skip over for the more profitable Christmas season), it seems to have become very chic to talk about things we’re thankful for. I find this somewhat interesting because many of the people who are daily talking about things they’re thankful for have spent the better portion of the year complaining about many of the same things.
I saw someone yesterday talking on Facebook about how thankful they are for their ‘great job.’ However, just going back to August they had a ranting post on their same Facebook page about how they hated their job and had the most awful boss in the world. Along with a few choice words they talked about what they wished they could say to their boss (who I hope is not their friend on Facebook!)
This isn’t a solo scenario, nor is it an amusing one. It’s really quite sad.
While I am glad to see people count their blessings during this wonderful season, it seems that they largely miss the point. It’s almost as if many thing “I can have a wrong attitude and think poorly about this job or that person the majority of the time, then others I can be thankful for them an negate everything negative I’ve said.” But it doesn’t work like that, really.
First, lets start by looking at a few things the Bible says about being thankful:
Now thanks be to God for His Gift, [precious] beyond telling [His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift]! 2 Corinthians 9: 15
I will give to the Lord the thanks due to His rightness and justice, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
Psalm 7: 17
First of all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men.1 Timothy 2: 1
At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Ephesians 5: 20
For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be thrown away or refused if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Timothy 4: 4
Now these are just a few of many scriptures on the subject, but do you see a theme forming?
- Thankfulness comes out of having a right heart, which comes from having a right relationship
- Thankfulness isn’t conditional on what has or hasn’t happened to you, or what someone has or hasn’t done
- Thankfulness should involve the people and things in our lives, which we recognize as being gifts from God
- Thankfulness should produce action on our part through prayer first and foremost
These are things that are included in being thankful.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of thankful is to be “conscious of benefit received”
We must be careful that we don’t insult God, who loves and cares for us and provides us with every good thing when we spend most of our time complaining about our spouse or job or our financial situation and then suddenly talk about how thankful we are. See, most people aren’t truly conscious of the benefit they have received or thankfulness wouldn’t be a one time occurrence. Thankfulness would be an overwhelming response on a daily basis, despite the trials and troubles we may encounter.
Think about it like this:
When we really understand how much God loves us that He would give us our spouse, even with their quirks and issues, or our jobs, even with its hassles and stresses, because He wants to provide for us and bless us…and use us to be a blessing back, then we can begin to have a different perspective on these things. When I look at my wife as a gift from God, then even when she does something I may not like I still see her in the right light.
This is such an important thing, and really what it comes down to is thinking rightly, which sadly most people-including Christians-don’t do. God gives us a very specific list of things He wants us to spend time thinking about. When we do, the effect it has our our minds and attitudes is profound. See here:
English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
However, when we don’t actively train our minds to think the way He wants us to think then we end up allowing our flesh and our feelings to have influence. God doesn’t want that from Believers. He wants us to be Spirit led and controlled not flesh led and controlled When people don’t think about the right things…and when they don’t think about things rightly, it will often cause them to devalue them, because they aren’t looking at them as God does.
So while I’m happy for everyone who is counting their blessings, I guess my encouragement is this: Don’t just do it now. Think the way God wants you to think and do it all the time…you’ll be amazed how it can change your attitude and outlook. And even your circumstances.