Gratitude Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Gratitude in Scripture</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Chronicles 16:8</a>, make known God&#39;s deeds among the people</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 50:23</a>, bring thanksgiving sacrifices to honor God</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 118:38</a>, &quot;I will give thanks to you; you are my God.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 136:1</a>, God&#39;s steadfast love endures forever</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 11:41</a>, Jesus thanks God for hearing him</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Corinthians 15:57</a>, thanks to God who gave us victory through Jesus</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">2 Corinthians 2:14</a>, Christ leads us in a triumphal procession</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Ephesians 1:15</a>, giving thanks in prayer</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Philippians 4:6-7</a>, &quot;Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. . .&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Colossians 3:15-17</a>, give thanks to God in everything</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Thessalonians 5:18</a>, give thanks in all circumstances</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Hebrews 12:28</a>, give thanks with reverence and awe</span></li></ul><p><strong><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Gratitude</span></span></strong></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">One of the jewels of the Reform<span class="body-copy">ation, <em>The Heidelberg Catechism,</em> names gratitude (<em>Dankbarkeit</em>) as the prevailing motive of the Christian life. In &quot;all our living&quot; we are to &quot;show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us.&quot; So re</span>generated Christians keep the Ten Commandments and pray out of hearts that are full of Dankbarkeit.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">1 The<span class="body-copy">ssalonians 5:18 issues a glad summons to &quot;give thanks in all circumstances.&quot; The preposition is important &mdash; &quot;in,&quot; not &quot;for.&quot; We don&#39;t thank God for cancer, or for any evil thing, as if God caused it or wanted it. God is light; in God there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Yet even in evil circumstances God may bring forth goodness &mdash; strength, patience, humility, dependence on God, closeness to God. Give thanks in all circums</span>tances.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">The grateful Christian, moving gracefully through life with genial readiness to find good &quot;in all circumstances&quot; will sometimes have to scrounge it up out of unpromising materials. In Marilynne Robinson&#39;s novel Gilead the chief character&#39;s mother has hung her hand-washed bedsheets to dry on the clothesline. A storm comes up and soaks the heavy sheets till they break the clothesline and are lying in mud. Her response: &quot;I know there is a blessing in this somewhere.&quot;</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">({{<em>Gilead</em>}}, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004, p. 35)</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Christians are grateful to God. It&#39;s deeply satisfying to have someone personal to thank. It&#39;s much harder to be &quot;grateful in general.&quot; That&#39;s a little like being married in general.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">The definition above includes the notion of being indebted. Some people doubt that a grateful person is indebted: after all, isn&#39;t it a <em>gift</em> she is indebted for, and if it&#39;s a gift, how can she owe anything? So far, so good. She doesn&#39;t owe money, or a similar gift back. But she does owe thanks. She has a debt of gratitude. And the giver has a right to expect her thanks.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">The giving of thanks is a regular upbeat in the rhythm of a healthy Christian life. The Psalms ring with thanksgiving for the whole catalog of God&#39;s goods and services. For God&#39;s rescue work, for the law that puts spine in our lives, for the tender mercies of God that settle in around us even when we have shamed ourselves &mdash; for these things, and so much more, the poets of God send up their thanks like thousands of helium balloons.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">The psalms are mostly prayers and calls to prayer. But Paul does something else. Paul proclaims the great dying and rising events of Christ, binds us to these events, and then describes the style of life that naturally follows. Since we have already died and risen with Christ in our baptism, says Paul in Colossians 3, we ought to keep the rhythm going. We ought to let our old self drown and our new self rise like some glistening swimmer wh</span>ose rescued life can never again be the same.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Since you have been raised <span class="body-copy">with Christ, let gloating die and let compassion arise. Let malice die and let kindness arise. Kindness is, after all, not a moral handout, not a sort of emotional welfare we angrily pay out to the undeserving. No, kindness, compassion, hum</span>ility, gentleness, and patience are the family style for the people of God. They show we have the rhythm of Christ.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">And so it is with thanksgiving<span class="body-copy">. Everythingin Colossians 3 follows from its opening clause &quot;Since you have been raised with Christ.&quot; Since you have been raised with Christ, be thankful, sing with gratitude in your hearts, give thanks to God through Christ. T</span>hree times in a row Paul urges thanksgiving as a natural feature of our resurrected character.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Why? Wh<span class="body-copy">at&#39;s the point? Surely not simply to keep the goods flowing, as if we were caged rats who had discovered the food lever. What&#39;s the point of thanksgiving? Surely not to fulfill some unstated contract with God: We like goods. God lik</span>es thanks. Even Steven.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">No, thanksgiving as an upb<span class="body-copy">eat in the rhythm of Christian life falls instead into a category that is easier to illustrate than to define. Thanksgiving falls into the category of what is <em>fitting</em> for grateful people. Fittingness isn&#39;t the sort of</span> thing you can explain very well. It&#39;s like a joke. You either get it or you don&#39;t, and <em>if</em> you don&#39;t, you shouldn&#39;t ask to have it explained.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Fittingness. In s<span class="body-copy">o many ways God is a giver. How fitting it is that we should, so to speak, return the compliment. God gives and we give back. Among the things we have to give is the kind of hearty thanks that is right and</span> proper and fitting.</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy" style=""><font color="#00244d"><span style="font-size: 20px;"><span class="body-copy">Gratitude fitspeople who have been raised with Christ. Gratitude is part of the family uniform of the people of God. In God&#39;s world, what&#39;s right is also what&#39;s wise. It&#39;s right to express thanks to God. It&#39;s wise to do so too. As positive psychologists have been noting since about 2000, gratitude is a powerful engine of joy, of calmness, of lower blood pressure, and of many other benefits. The grateful person is living life the way God intended.</span></span></font></span></p>