A Joyful Commitment
As the chapter turns for another year gone by, we cannot help but be filled with gratitude. The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible defines gratitude as a:
natural expression of thanks in response to blessings, protection, or love. [Gratitude] is not a tool used to manipulate the will of God. It is never coerced or fabricated in one’s mind; rather, gratitude is a joyful commitment of one’s personality to God.
In the OT, gratitude to God was the only condition in which life could be enjoyed. For Jews, every aspect of creation provided evidence of God’s lordship over all life. The Hebrew people thanked him for the magnificence of the universe. When they received good news they thanked God for his goodness and great deeds. When they received bad news, they also gave thanks, trusting that he was a just God…
In the NT, the object of thanksgiving is the love of God expressed in the redemptive-work of Christ.1
God the Provider of all Things
There are so many excellent components of this definition that both encourage and prompt me to be a person of gratitude. First, gratitude in its simplest form is an expression of thankfulness to the Lord for His many provisions. Pause and consider all that the Lord has given you today. As I pen these words, I am mindful of my health, the blessings of my wife and kids, the bright blue sky and sun that warmed my face as I walked back to the office; on and on, I could go. Second, gratitude is not a tool to manipulate for any reason at any point in time. It is not manipulative or coercive. I will do or say this so that… there is no “so that” with genuine gratitude! Instead, gratitude is an overflow of joy within our spirit to our gracious Provider of all things. Third, we can learn from our Jewish ancestors who could not imagine life exempt from gratitude toward God. Read through the Old Testament and history, and we quickly observe that Jewish people have experienced abundant blessings from the Lord, but they have also endured much. But even with this in mind, they praised God for His goodness and when times were difficult. Upon learning that all his children had died in a freakish accident, Job fell to the ground to worship God and said,
Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh. Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything. (Job 1:21, HCSB)
Brought into Light & New Life
Finally, with the fulfillment of the gospel narrative, as followers of the Way, we cannot help but be a people of gratitude for the redemptive work of Christ. While we were once enemies, God gave us His Son so that we might be made right with Him. While we once walked in darkness, the Lord graciously brought us to the light. While we were dead in our sins and hardness of heart, the Lord gave us new hearts and breathed His Spirit of life within us.
On behalf of CLDI, we pray that each of you experiences and gives praise to the Lord for His abundant grace that He gives all of us every day. We give thanks to you for being used by the Lord to encourage us with your prayers, participation, support, and financial gifts as we aim to make Jesus and his Kingdom known in the South Side of Billings. May we all go forth with a renewed spirit of gratitude.
1. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Gratitude. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 900-901). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.