As I was editing David Brickner’s article (pp. 1, 2), I was especially impressed by his thought that when genuine thanksgiving flows from our heart, it refreshes those around us. I wanted to consider other ways that thanks-giving promotes good spiritual health within the community of God. Here are a few thoughts for starters:
Genuine thankfulness to God is more than a passing thought of appreciation for something we have received. It is a deeply-rooted realization that the Creator of the universe cares to meet our individual needs. Genuine thankfulness takes into account the fact that God’s attentiveness to us is pure grace. It recognizes where we would be had He not taken notice of us, as well as where we are because He has. As a result, when we are genuinely thankful to God, we cannot be puffed up with pride any more than we can be genuinely thankful to Him and filled with self-loathing.
Thankfulness focuses us not only on the gift, but on the giver. When we focus on God, we will not be putting one another down because we realize that it is He, and not us, who has the right to judge. How can a person be genuinely thankful to God while simultaneously judging a brother or sister? How can a person be genuinely thankful and offended at the same time? Thankfulness puts us in a place of realizing what we have, not what we think we deserve or what others owe us. Thankfulness focuses us on the good that God has done to us, not the bad that others may have done.
Thankfulness also builds our trust in God. As we remember and recount His acts of kindness our thanks-giving reminds us that God looks after our best interests. When we trust God, we are more likely to obey Him and when we obey Him, He is more likely to to bless us. It’s the opposite of a vicious cycle! Also when we trust God, we experience His peace—and when we experience His peace, it makes us thankful … completing a circle of grace!