Being thankful is more than just posting on social media about the good things in your life (#blessed). As Christians, we have such reasons for giving thanks! We don’t thank the universe; we give thanks to God – the Creator and Sovereign of the entire universe who gives us both good things to enjoy and hard things to endure.
Gratitude as a weapon
Gratitude is also a weapon against sin, our inborn natural that causes us to desire to do and to do wrong. As Christians still living our “flesh” as Paul calls it in Romans chapter 6 and 7, we fight sin on a daily and moment by moment basis. And Gratitude is a key weapon in that fight.
Romans chapter 1 tells us about the plight of all people who do not have saving faith in God. Verse 21 describes their attitude: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Looking at this passage in the opposite way, to grow in understanding and wisdom requires us to give thanks and to honor God as God. Gratitude in the good and bad is a tool to do that.
Gratitude in the good
I had no problem being grateful today. I recently started a new job and am overwhelmed at God’s provision and care for me in all of the details. My co-workers are so friendly, the management is accommodating. And it has amazing health benefits that started right away.
My chronic health issues have not been cared for well in years and so getting good care now is an amazing relief. I have been thanking God for days for this blessing!
Gratitude in the bad
Being thankful now is a stark contrast to the despair I felt a month ago when I was unsuccessfully job searching and dealing with immense physical pain.
It was not easy to give thanks then. But the God that knit me together in my mother’s womb knew those hard days and these easier days and was working in my life through each (see Psalm chapter 139 verses 13-16).
Sin, in the form of discontentment, lack of faith and even anger at God was lurking at my heart and I did not fight as well as I should have. I hope that I have learned and next time gratitude will be my ongoing weapon of choice in the inevitable times of difficulty.
Gratitude fights covetousness and discontentment
Covetousness is an inordinate wish to have more than you already have. It is forbidden in the Ten Commandments (see Exodus chapter 20 verse 17) and in the New Testament also (see Colossians chapter 3 verse 5). Covetousness usually starts with discontentment, the nagging thought that what you have isn’t good enough.
It’s not wrong to want things and to acquire them by lawful means. But wanting can easily turn into coveting as we fixate on the thing we want and ignore the good things that we have.
Gratitude helps us to reverse this. Gratitude helps us to acknowledge the ways that God has provided for us and helps us look to Him alone as the best gift we could ever want. Being grateful for salvation, His Word, our secure hope of heaven and the earthly good things that He has given us to enjoy is a good place to start.
Gratitude fights a lack of faith
A lack of faith happens when we do not believe the true things that God tells us about Himself in His Word. We quaver in our belief that He loves us. We think that He doesn’t care about our pain. We see our hard experiences as proof that He is not good.
But none of those things are true. God does love us, He cares about us in our suffering and He is still good when life is hard.
Gratitude helps us to remember the times He has cared for us in the past and the promises that we have for the future. Reading the Bible and being thankful for the truth that we read is how we can use gratitude to fight our lack of faith.
Gratitude fights impatience and anger
Impatience and anger manifest when we want what we want, when we want it and do not get it. Our desires turn into demands that turn into anger when we are denied what we want.
But the truth is that everything we have is from the hand of a faithful God who loves us and is using both good and bad things in our lives for our good.
Gratitude helps us to see that we do not deserve any good thing that we have. Gratitude humbles our hearts before God and allows us to worship Him as God. Repentance for our sin of anger and impatience and being thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice that grants us forgiveness and mercy from God is where we start.
May we fight sin with gratefulness, heeding the call of the Psalmist in Psalm chapter 136 verses 1-3, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Ashley Mullins is the wife of Chris and a new employee at a health insurance company. They currently live in Spokane, Washington after a time of being far away, first in the Los Angeles area in California and then in Malawi, Africa for a year.