It’s that time of year. We know how the season is supposed to go down. Besides pumpkin pie and turkey, we are encouraged to cultivate attitudes of gratitude and to have grateful hearts.
Such as these 4 attitudes.
Count our blessings.
Express our gratefulness.
Show our generosity.
And maybe we do and are these things during Thanksgiving. Perhaps some of us manage to pull it off most of November or even the entire year.
But when we look at this list, do we think of our lives, our family, and more importantly, our God? And is it with grateful hearts?
Because sometimes I epitomize these attitudes and other times not so much. A few years ago, as I reflected on gratitude, God spoke to my heart.
Grateful people are generous people. Generous people are grateful people.
This exemplifies real grateful hearts. It proves true with me. When gratefulness rises in my heart, I’m more generous with my money and time and service. Likewise, when my generosity bubbles over on others, gratefulness swells in my soul.
Then, I express gratitude for what the Lord has given me and for the great things He has done. I realize I’m blessed beyond measure.
Yet, how do we cultivate attitudes of gratitude in all the areas of our lives, for the people in our lives and for the God who gives us life? How do we cultivate true and authentic grateful hearts?
Even further, are gratitude, generosity, and thanksgiving possible January through December—not just during November or on Thanksgiving Day?
Also, you may wonder how this is possible during the tough year we’ve all experienced in our lives and around the world. But God’s Word and promises remain true, no matter what’s going on around us.
So where do we start? Let’s use the list in the introduction and unpack each one.
(1.) Count Our Blessings
Everyone brace yourselves. This is going to blow our minds! The Lord provides:
- His children’s basic physical needs.
- Our people like our spouse, children, extended family, friends, and Himself in the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Our skills (jobs), talents, spiritual gifts, and identity in Christ.
- Eternal life, abundant life, and life itself…the very breath in our lungs.
- Every spiritual blessing. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” Ephesians 1:3 (ESV). While it’s not an exhaustive list, these include amazing grace, never-ending mercy, unconditional and undying love, unsurpassed peace, real hope, authentic faith, unwavering truth (the Bible), overflowing joy, God’s fullness for our emptiness, and the Lord’s goodness, kindness, and compassion.
Dare I say if we counted our blessings, really made a list, our mouths might gape open and our hearts fill with gratitude. So…go ahead…make a list. Count your blessings. I dare you.
Our cups overflow in Christ.
(2.) Be Thankful
Psalm 100 exclaims a thankfulness to the Lord. Look at verse 4, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (ESV) The psalmist paints a picture of thankfulness for God’s goodness and mercy in our lives and so much more.
And thanksgiving often changes our perspective. Whether life is going great or we are walking through hardships. Thanking God for all He’s done and all He will do helps cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Why not thank God for everyone and everything He’s given us? After we make our count-my-blessings list, verbally and prayerfully thank God for each one. Naming our blessings expresses grateful hearts.
(3.) Express Our Gratefulness
Recently, I told a friend I was grateful for her friendship. Yet, when was the last time I expressed those same sentiments to family members and to the Lord? Some examples:
- A spouse, “Honey, I’m so grateful you’re in my life and for all you mean to our family.”
- Children, “I thank the Lord He allowed me to be your mother. You are special to me.”
- Friends, “Your encouragement in my life and my Christian walk means more than you know. Grateful for you.”
- God, “Lord, I stand amazed at Your craftsmanship in me as Creator, Your faithfulness and care to me as Father, Your voice and direction to me as Guide, Your revelation and wisdom to me as Truth, and Your redemption and protection for me as Rescuer and Deliverer. Thank You, Lord. I’m so grateful.”
(4.) Show Our Generosity
As already established, our gratefulness directly affects our generosity. Therefore, we ask ourselves if we are generous with our time, money, service, love, spiritual gifts, and forgiveness.
Do we show these acts of generosity to our family, church family, friends, neighbors, community, and the least of these—hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned—as defined in Matthew 25?
Yes, it’s that time of year. But take the Gratitude Dare to cultivate grateful hearts all year long.
I dare you.
Which attitude of gratitude comes easily for you? Which one is most difficult?
Here’s my Inspire a Fire post: Finding God in Thanksgiving and Keeping Him There