Colossians 3:15- “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”
Is your heart thankful?
What does it take to orient my heart toward thankfulness?
Have you ever thought about that? If by nature I am corrupt and selfish, how do I turn that around? I know there are times I have wondered about this. Especially when I have failed miserably.
The opposite of thankfulness is selfishness.
I hate to admit it, but I can offer many examples of my selfish heart. When something doesn’t go my way and I pout. Or when someone cuts me off in traffic and I grumble. And definitely, after I have an impatient outburst towards my family. Ugh! Those are the worst! It’s when the “Me, Me, ME!” monster rears its ugly head and destroys relationships. And later in the quiet moments, I wonder, how can I become less self-centered?
The problem is a lack of humility.
If my desire is to be grateful, but I’m doing selfish things I don’t really want to do (cue Paul in Romans chapter 7 verse 15) it’s important to recognize two things. The first thing is to know that I am no longer a slave to my selfish nature as we see in 2 Peter 1:3-4. These verses tell me that through God’s divine power I have been granted all things that pertain to life and godliness! And that through His great promises I may become a partaker of His divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world because of man’s sinful nature. He has made a way for me to escape my selfish nature and I can do it through His divine power. Amazing! Through Christ, I have a new nature and I now have the power to live it out.
The second thing is to know that when it comes to putting my new divinely powered grateful spirit into practice, I must be willing to do without something for the sake of another. This means to humble myself. Did you know that our word humble is derived from the Latin adjective humus which can be translated as “from the earth” or “grounded”? To think of posturing myself to the ground in my thoughts, words, and deeds before others, brings me a fresh perspective on what humility looks like. In addition to that, Christ Himself gives me the ultimate example of humility as he trusted the Father and humbled Himself to the point of death.
Humility breeds love.
If I have a new nature (and I do) with God’s divine power at work in me (and I do) with the perfect example of humility in Christ (and I do) then the next ingredient to creating a thankful heart is love. There’s a word for the thought that I should get what I want when I want it. It’s called entitlement. The posture of selfishness is to believe that I am owed something, that I have a right to what I want, to grasp and claw for my desires to be fulfilled. Yet the posture of love is to release my desires into the hands of God and let His love for me and for others fill me up so that I can give. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:39 “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And it's in this love that we grow gratitude.
Growing in love is growing in God.
Anytime we are more concerned with pleasing ourselves than pleasing others, we are self-focused and need to repent, so we can become more like Christ and replace our self-focus with a God-focus. It’s impossible to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (and our neighbor) when we are self-focused. But growing in love is growing in God because God is love.
What are some practical ways to grow in thankfulness?
Psalm 50:20 says, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
Sometimes expressing thankfulness is a sacrifice of our time, talents, or treasures. But it’s not without its reward. You will see the salvation of God- and there’s no greater reward than that!