Attitudes of Gratitude — à la Mr. Steele and the Apostle Paul
Years ago my wife and I lived on a tiny court in San Lorenzo with a sad old lady named Lillian for a neighbor. We tried hard to love on Lillian, but she wouldn’t have it. More than sad, she was bitter and angry. I have few memories of Lillian smiling, except for the one Halloween night when our little family showed up on her porch dressed as vegetables (I was Bob the Tomato –look him up). She could barely stop laughing, and to this day it’s the memory of Lillian I choose to recall because she was uncharacteristically happy.
Lillian was sad for a few understandable reasons, as those traumas of life really arrested her. I don’t know that she ever got beyond that pain, neither with the people in her life, or with the God who gave her life. Super sad. Even sadder? I sometimes meet individuals who claim to be followers of Jesus who, while perhaps not exactly sad and bitter, are complainers. They whine, and, frankly, they’re not so fun to hang with. Why is that? How can that be?
This past weekend I found my own self talk being quite whiney, focused more on complaining instead of expressing gratitude. I didn’t really recognize it until I was reading in the third chapter of Colossians, where the apostle Paul penned these words to the early church, admonishing them to, among other things, BE THANKFUL.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15-17
It seems even individuals who desire to follow God and know Him need reminders to be thankful! Paul writes that when Believers neglect to live like they belong to Jesus — that’s when they run into trouble. I’ll say it this way, since I was the grumbler in mind: when I don’t allow His peace and presence to comfort me ( and instead, worry!), when I neglect reading, realizing and meditating on His promises (and instead, feed on the news, mindlessly absorb my favorite TV shows or other entertainment du jour), and otherwise live life for myself (instead of living it for the God who loves me enough to give me Jesus) — that’s when I stop being thankful.
My wife and I recently learned some challenging news that will be building our faith (don’t worry — all will be well). I told Teri tonight that we needed to start journaling this story, namely writing down any of the God sightings we are sure to see along the way, because I’m confident these sightings will help us to be thankful. I’m a big believer in cultivating an attitude of gratitude, regardless the circumstances, and Paul tells Believers to rest in the peace of Christ (He calmed storms, He conquered death, He makes eternity with God possible!), to dwell in the words of the Bible (read it, relish it, believe it) and share that encouragement with others, and to live life for God to get glory, not ourselves. And, to be thankful (three times in three verses)!
This Thanksgiving, if you’re a Christ follower, I admonish you with these words above. Replace the whining with a commitment to be deliberately thankful. If you don’t claim to be a follower of Christ, why not? I encourage you — check out the claims of Christ! And, I leave you with this other awesome passage from the Bible. It’s Psalm 100 from the Old Testament, and it, too, is a goodie from which to launch your own Happy Thanksgiving!
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
With Gratitude (you saw that coming)–
Administrator and Principal