Some people have mastered being thankful. I know – because, when I was much younger, God gave me three mentors. They modeled thankfulness and exercised impeccable graciousness even when things weren’t going well. I’m not going to tell you who they are. But I will tell you that two of them – their names start with “M” and both end in “e.” And the third person rules a country – well, sort of!
Thanksgiving helps us remember the bountiful blessings we have. Thankfulness is a lovely quality that emulates God’s character. And since character forms the fiber of our very soul, it’s worth investing in the very best character possible. My mentors have given a wonderful example of what things to aim for. I want to share them with you.
Things I Learned From My Mentors About a Thankful Heart
First, I learned that a person’s level of gratitude shows the sweetness (or not!) of their inner person. My mentors are some of the sweetest people I’ve known. They have an unseen aroma about them. They command respect by continually exercising a thankful heart. I want to be like that. Sincerely sweet in my heart. How about you?
The second thing I learned is that developing and maintaining a grateful heart is intentional work. It’s a choice to focus on blessings even in difficult times. Choosing to respond with a gracious spirit and a kind heart is an option for every person. I observed this choice in my mentors’ lives.
In the end, how you conduct yourself is all about you, not another person or bad circumstances. I want to be gracious and kind – sincerely. How about you?
There are 3 qualities you can focus on that will help you develop grateful character and a thankful heart so you can be sincerely sweet.
QUALITY 1: A thankful heart takes DISCIPLINE.
To be grateful takes discipline. It literally takes training. The best training strokes and action steps come straight from Scripture. Hebrews 12:11 talks about this training: No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
You must engage discipline to become a person of gratitude. No wonder God often tells His children to be thankful. He created the human design. He knows gratitude is better than a multi-vitamin for spiritual long-term health.
QUALITY 2: Staying sweet requires PERSPECTIVE.
Life is pretty challenging, and lots of hard things happen. So, you need to be deliberate in responding. Intentional Living is needed for healthy perspective. Heb. 12:2 says to focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Jesus was anointed with the oil of joy∗ even when He suffered. The oil of joy∗ keeps you sweet as you practice God’s perspective.
Focusing intently on Jesus gives hope to everyone who takes His perspective. The oil of joy∗ is not a feeling so much as a chosen outlook you latch onto with all your might by fastening yourself to God. (Also check out: Hope Happens When You Tether Yourself to God.)
QUALITY 3: Being grateful takes FAITH.
When things look terrible, when it seems God is not there, when it feels like your prayers have not been answered, responding well takes faith. Gratitude happens when you trust God’s goodness, wisdom, love, and strength.
Note: Grumbling takes place when there is a lack of gratitude. Lack of gratitude flows directly from:
- not trusting that God loves you and cares about your life.
- concluding God is not doing His job good enough.
- refusing to believe God is capable and eager to intervene.
- not wanting God’s way and forcing your own agenda.
Lack of gratitude is a wall. A blockade. A divide. It’s a subtle form of pride. You expect something better, something of YOUR choosing. A person who is not grateful is never happy, never content. They lack Christ’s sweet character.
Conversely, when you are genuinely grateful, it’s harder to sin. Thankfulness is an “auto deterrent” for sin. No wonder Scripture repeats – “be thankful, praise the Lord, have a grateful heart, give thanks.”
Are you putting energy into practicing gratitude? Are you exercising admirable character in daily challenges? Are you engaging discipline, perspective, and faith?
You can’t do this on your own! God loves you so much. His power, love, and strength are immediately available to you – NOW! Why not invite Him into your every scenario. Surrender to His agenda. If you “prefer” and love Jesus above yourself, and if you practice these action steps, you will have the sweetness of a thankful heart. I promise!
Scriptures on Thankfulness and Oil of Joy∗
- Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil. 4:4)
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6)
- Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. (Phil. 3:1)
- Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thess. 5:16-18)
∗ The oil of joy can be yours! You have a choice. Check it out.
It’s Your Move: Strategies in Thinking From Romans gives you fresh daily thoughts from God’s Word – and a peek into God’s great heart and plan. It helps you know God and His brilliant mind better, adding excitement and [oil of] joy as you develop an intentional plan for your life. New hope rises as you gain discernment of how to solve your problems. It’s your move. Why not make it by checking out this great resource?