It’s the month of giving thanks, the one month we intentionally pause to count our blessings before we blast off into a season of gift giving and weighty expectation and celebration. But what if this month was the launching point? Not for 30 days of gratitude but a lifestyle of thanks. How would that change the way we live?
It could be argued that at the source of every Christian virtue is a need for gratitude. It fuels all others. Faith without gratitude can quickly turn into rules over relationship. Love without gratitude can turn into entitlement and hurt feelings. Compassion without remembering how much has been given to us can turn our eyes from the needy to focus on our own need. John Henry Jowett, a British pastor, once put it this way: “Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” That’s convicting!
Romans 1 even tells us the slippery slope that comes when we don’t honor or thank God: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:21-23).
They knew God but didn’t honor or thank Him. Because of that, we see “but…” And that transition goes on to communicate disastrous consequences, including foolishness and idolatry.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Prayer accompanied by thanksgiving leads to peace! Isn’t that a trait we all crave? Peace of mind, peace from chaos, peace from trouble, worry, or threat. God gives peace in a supernatural manner, but it is a product of gratitude!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” So many times, we wonder what the will of God is for our lives. But 1 Thessalonians lays it out simply: rejoice, pray, give thanks.
God’s desire and plan for our character and for good in our lives flows from a thankful heart. And a thankful heart changes us and those around us. It influences, encourages, and reminds. It marks a believer as different in a world defined by anxiety, stress, and pressure. What if we as believers allowed this month of gratitude to transform our attitudes, our demeanor, our hearts, and our lives? What if developing hearts of gratitude made us more influential ambassadors of the gospel? And what better time to do this as we prepare for a season that celebrates a God who came. Let’s not miss it this Thanksgiving season.