(1 Thess. 5:18) “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Back in the days before automobiles, there was a traveling salesman who acquired a mule for use in his business. He was so appreciative that he would begin each trip by thanking God for providing the mule. Eventually, the animal learned that “Thank God” meant to go. When they reached their destination, the salesman would again give a prayer of thanks, concluding with “Amen.” And so the mule learned that “Amen” meant to stop.
Before long, the business prospered; and the salesman was able to upgrade to a horse. Having no need of the mule, the salesman sold him to another businessman in town. He explained the necessary commands, and with a “Thank God,” the mule and it’s new owner were off.
Well, it was such a nice day and the ride so enjoyable, that before long the businessman forgot everything else until he suddenly realized that he was heading for the edge of a high cliff. “Whoa!” he said to the mule but the mule did not whoa. “Stop!” he commanded, but the mule did not stop.
Frantically pulling on the reigns, the man yelled out a desperate prayer: “O God, please save me! Amen.” With that, the mule came to an abrupt stop just in the nick of time at the edge of the cliff. Breathing a sigh of relief, the man said, “Thank God.”
Bible commentator Matthew Henry, after being robbed, wrote this in his diary:
Let me be thankful…
* First, because I was never robbed before.
* Second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life.
* Third, because although they took my all, it was not much.
* Fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
Corrie Ten Boom in ‘The Hiding Place,’ relates an incident which taught her this principle. She and her sister, Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst German prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and flea-infested. Their Scripture reading that morning in 1 Thess. 5:18 had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop, and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. She finally succumbed.
During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings without guard interference. Several months later they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.
What exactly do we mean by the phrase “An Attitude of Gratitude”?
An Attitude of Gratitude is “A Lifestyle of Appreciation for the Gift of Life.” It is a willingness in our hearts to express in a tangible way, our appreciation for the life that God has given us to live. This includes the big things and the little things, the good things and the bad things, that make up our lives. It’s an awareness that just being alive is an awesome thing, not to be taken lightly, or for granted. An Attitude of Gratitude helps us to see life from a different perspective. It allows us to see life from God’s perspective, rather than ours. Being thankful should be a lifestyle for the child of God, rather than a holiday that we celebrate once a year.
(Hebrews 13:15-16) says “By Him ( Jesus ) therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name. (16 ) But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
I want you to notice that it takes effort to have an Attitude of Gratitude.
This lifestyle does not just happen,
1). It is cultivated:
That means that we make a conscience decision to live a life of gratitude, showing and expressing our thanksgiving for the wonderful gift of life that God has so graciously given us. This is not easy,
I want you to notice something else. When you have an Attitude of Gratitude,
2). It is communicating to others where you stand in relationship to God.
It also communicates if you are a devoted Christian or not. There are people that are watching us to see how we respond to the unfavorable circumstances in our lives. When we fail to respond with an Attitude of Gratitude – what kind of message are we communicating to those outside the Christian faith?
The writer of Hebrews continued in Hebrews 13:16, ” For with such sacrifices God is well pleased. ”
What are Some Characteristics of People with an Attitude of Gratitude:
- People who have an attitude of gratitude are satisfied and content with life.
(Philippians 4:11-12) “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (12) I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need.”
Paul is saying, ‘I have learned to be content in every situation.’ I believe that Paul is telling us that contentment is not in possessions, but in a person – and that person is The Lord Jesus Christ.
People who do not have an Attitude of Gratitude are never satisfied. No matter what happens, it’s never good enough for them. People who live without an Attitude of Gratitude are always waiting for something bigger and better before they’ll be thankful.
But the truth is that if you aren’t thankful for the little miracles of life that come along today, you won’t even see the big ones of tomorrow.
That’s why an Attitude of Gratitude makes a difference.
- People who have an Attitude of Gratitude are not stressed out.
Those who are unthankful are usually stressed out about life. They look at those who have the finer things in life and say, “Life is so unfair why should I be thankful.”
I am not condemning hard work, I’m not saying old fashioned hard work and effort isn’t important – but if people take the “I’ve done it all myself” attitude, they will sooner or later say “I’ve done it all myself in the past, and so it’s all up to me in the future. I don’t need people. I don’t need God. I’ll carry the load all by myself.”
- People who have an Attitude of Gratitude are full of Joy.
Those who don’t have an Attitude of Gratitude usually have no joy. It doesn’t matter how much they have or what they have; they seldom, if ever, have any joy.
Think about it. Who do you know who fits the description of “never satisfied and always stressed out”? Without meeting that person, I can tell you two things about them: (1) they never say “thanks”; and (2) you would never associate them with the word “joyful.”
I’ll tell you one more thing: you don’t enjoy being around them very much, nor does anyone else they know.
What Paul is trying to say in our text verse is that an Attitude of Gratitude is not just another character quality that would be “nice to have.” It’s absolutely essential to your spiritual life, absolutely essential to your mental health, and it’s absolutely essential to your relationships.