Gratitude That Delights God


With the Thanksgiving holiday less than a week away, I wanted to spend a few minutes today on the subject of gratitude. We all know that gratitude, the expression of thanks, is a Biblical posture for every follower of Jesus. We read the Psalms of David and find expressions of thanksgiving on nearly every page. We read the historical accounts from scripture and find examples of people who took the time to offer their thanks to God. In the gospels and the other parts of the New Testament we find examples of and teachings about gratitude. So I thought we should remind ourselves about the significance of gratitude in this season of thanksgiving.

In Psalm 30:4 David encouraged us to give thanks to God and in the process revealed a fundamental principle regarding the focus of thanksgiving.

Psalm 30:4
4 Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

While it is good and right to offer thanks to God for what He does, it is even more important to thank Him for WHO He is. When we acknowledge who God is in our gratitude we shift the focus from ourselves to Him. We make God the focal point of our gratitude rather than what He has done for us. Thanking God for His nature and character and shows we know God for more than just a giver of good things. It shows that we understand that God wants His attributes to be present in our lives. God wants His holiness to be our holiness. God wants His love to be our love. God wants His forgiveness to be our forgiveness.

Expressing thanks for who God is reminds us that God wants His nature and character to be ours.

In addition, thanksgiving tempers the way in which we pray and make our petitions to God.

Philippians 4:6
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

It’s not selfish to make petitions to God, but asking without gratitude in our hearts exposes a fundamental flaw in our prayer attitude. Prayer can easily degrade into a laundry list of requests. Here’s what I want, God. Here’s what I need, God. Here’s what would be nice to have, God. Here’s what I would prefer, God. On and on we go with what we want, what we need and how we expect God to respond to our prayers.

But prayer that is genuinely laced with gratitude and thanksgiving is seldom a mere list of requests. Gratitude for who God is allows us to make our requests with a clear eye toward the reality that God sees our needs much differently than we do. This means that we don’t make our requests with a fixed expectation of the outcome, but with a humble realization that God’s answer will always be the best even when it is not the answer we desire or expect.

It’s not that we shouldn’t ask; it’s that we should be careful to ask with the right attitude.

Finally, I’m convinced that God is delighted when we take time for thanksgiving and gratitude. Whether it be when we gather together for worship or when alone in our private moments, I imagine God standing on His chair cheering whenever we offer our thanks to Him.

In the book of Luke we read about 10 men who were afflicted with the disease of leprosy. They saw Jesus approaching and apparently having heard of Him and His miracles, they cried out asking Him to heal them.

Jesus gave them a specific instruction which was required by the Jewish law. They were to go show themselves to the priest who, alone, had the authority to declare them well and fit to reintegrate into the population.

The scripture tells us that as they turned to do what Jesus had commanded, all ten of them were healed of the disease.

Luke 17:15-19
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

That final phrase, “…thy faith hath made thee whole,” is a favorite of mine because I believe it reveals that this man received more than the other nine. They got the physical healing they desired, but this man was made WHOLE. That is, I believe he received spiritual as well as physical healing. And I believe this entire account serves to underscore the value God places upon a heart of gratitude.

That’s the power of gratitude and thanksgiving; it positions us to receive far more than the specifics of our petitions. It positions us to receive wholeness from God.

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