I grew up in a house where good manners were not just a nice idea. We were encouraged to sit patiently, chew quietly, and never talk about bathroom things. I realize in hindsight that Mom set herself up for years of frustration. Breaking the manner rules made life hilarious for my brothers, and despite her best efforts, I’m pretty sure I still ended up more salty than sweet.
In our adulthood, however, each of us raised our own children to be mindful of the same. If you need help, ask kindly. When you receive it, be thankful.
It is the season of Thanksgiving. This year, it has been keeping me awake. I just can’t stop thinking about how we are called to live in response to God’s goodness. It is more than a simple “thank you” and good manners. I want gratitude to change who I am and to define my life every day. I want to be a woman characterized by peace and joy, and I know the source of both of those is a heart fully alive and fully aware of how abundantly our cup overflows.
I long for deep thankfulness to be the default setting of all those who follow Jesus. I fear that we have let our indebtedness to God become like the thanks of a child learning her manners. It is casual, thoughtless even, as if the blessings that pour over us, beyond what we can even comprehend, are simply what is due us.
We count our blessings, but we want more. We struggle to be content. We hold on tight rather than give away. We criticize and complain. We are frustrated with our seasons of waiting. We fail to remember.
Gratitude as Scripture depicts has us running flat out to Jesus and falling at his feet in worship. It changes us completely. The source of our gratitude is in who God is and that alone should set the believer apart. Our recognition of all God has done should be the loudest part of our testimony. It should enable us to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
It is the season for thanksgiving and like other years, I will cook a big turkey and laugh at the banter of my kids. I will try to prepare myself for the mess and the noise. And, like other years, I’m sure I will be well aware of what a sweet, sweet blessing it is to have all the seats full around the table.
But there is more. It is more than what I have that makes me thankful, more even than the people I love most. There is One who loved me first and whose sacrifice merits my whole heart in response.
He calls me to live differently: joyfully, graciously, gratefully.
I find myself stepping a little more reverently into the season this year. The extravagance of Jesus is not lost on me. I am so, so grateful, and by God’s grace, more committed to stay that way.
Reflect and Respond:
1. What practical way can you encourage deeper gratitude in your home? Create a blessing jar or thankfulness board where you write down your blessings as a reminder of God’s goodness to you.
2. Read Luke 17:11-19. Consider ways in which you can live out your gratitude to God. How can your testimony of what God has done be used to bring glory to God and encourage others?
3. Go on a negativity fast. Choose to be only encouraging, thankful, and positive every moment of the day. That kind of attitude will be noticed, and you may just find that it becomes contagious.
Encouragement: Thankfulness about what God has done in the past always fuels our faith for the future. God has incredible plans for you. He who began a good work in you is not done with you yet!
Recommended Resource: The Prayer that Changes Everything: The Hidden Power of Praising God by Stormie Omartian