You may have heard it said “Have an attitude of gratitude.”
Gratitude: n.) The state of being grateful; warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor; kindness awakened by a favor received; thankfulness.
Gratitude isn’t just saying an empty “thank you”. Anyone can say those two words yet have no emotional connection. Gratitude is a warm feeling that is naturally triggered by something that is truly appreciated. This feeling is not coerced, forced or willed into existence. It is a spontaneous, genuine feeling you get when you receive something that you are sincerely thankful for. The more underserving we are of the gift we receive, the more gratitude we feel.
If I were to give my 12 year old son a box of pencils for his birthday, he will say “thank you” because he has good manners but he won’t have much gratitude. He already has a lot of pencils and this isn’t something he desperately needs or wants. Therefore, a box of pencils will not cause him to bust out with a spontaneous, overwhelming feeling of appreciation. He will simply offer an empty, quiet “thank you”.
Now, if I were to give my son a hover board—something that’s on his wish list that he feels his parents won’t ever get him, he would be elated and gratitude would consume his heart! Why? Because it’s a gift he would be receiving that a) he didn’t expect, and/or b) he didn’t earn.
On a much greater scale– in the spiritual sense, gratitude is a feeling in response to grace. When we receive God’s grace, our natural response is the consuming sense of gratitude in our hearts.
John Piper said “Grace begins when one person is full and another is empty. One person is a have and the other a have-not. One is rich; the other is poor. Then grace comes into action as the emptiness of one is filled up by the fullness of the other. What we do not have is supplied by what he has. Our poverty is replaced by his wealth. And all that not because we deserve it, but because Jesus is gracious. His riches are free. Therefore, gratitude wells up in the hearts of those who “receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). This gratitude to Christ, which marks all true believers (Romans 1:21), is more than saying, “Thank you,” or trying to return some service; it is more than being glad you are free from condemnation; it is being glad toward Jesus for the riches of salvation and the way he made it ours.
When the grace of Jesus penetrates the human heart, it rebounds back to God as gratitude. Christian gratitude is grace reflected back to God in the happiness we feel toward Jesus.”
And that is exactly what I’m thankful for!