Gratefulness is, “making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life.”*
The antonym of gratefulness is Unthankfulness.*
With Thanksgiving now behind us, we should not release ourselves from the idea that we can get by without expressing thanks to people for not only the things they give, but for what they represent or do for us.
I am learning more and more that people are more important than things. Things are useful, but they are not eternal. To treat a person as an object, easily pushed aside, or of little value could damage their view of God or douse water on their zeal for the Lord.
What Gratefulness is: Investment
Expressing gratefulness to those that benefit your life is like putting money into a piggy bank. The popular author, John Maxwell, often refers to leaders as having an amount of change that they carry with them. When they mess up then it costs them some of their change. If they continue to have character issues and misuse or mistreat those that they lead then when problems happen they use their change until it is no longer available for use when they need it.
So as our gratitude or lack thereof either puts money into our piggy bank or extracts it. When we make mistakes or wrong choices we pay for them. It costs us something. We need to have invested enough gratefulness to others for how they have helped us in our lives so that when we do mess up, it can easily be forgiven. If we have been continually unthankful, then in time respect is lost and many times the generosity once extended is stopped.
We prevent people from begrudging their resources of time, treasure, and talent by gratefulness.
Practical ways we can demonstrate our gratefulness toward others at Christmas
- By giving a host/hostess a gift for having you into their home.
- By picking up the plate of the person who made the meal and offering to do the dishes.
- Clean up after yourself and show your gratefulness even to your spouse, siblings, or other family members. Show them you are grateful for them by not being sloppy and expecting them to clean up after you.
- By writing a note of thanks in a Christmas card. It’s my personal belief that you should write something meaningful in every card you send as a lasting memory to that person, for you never know if it will be your last time to express your love and thanks.
- By leaving a good tip for your waiter/waitress, hotel attendant, or hairstylist. Let them know in that moment specifically how that they have made your life better.
- Take 10 minutes to talk to a friend or family member and give them a real heart-to-heart expression of their meaning to you.
- Kiss your spouse and tell them 3 ways they have brought joy and love to your life.
- Give your pastor an expression of your love for his time and effort of preaching God’s Word to you each church service.
- Leave a note for your children beside their bed or in a Christmas gift.
- By pitching in and doing your part, no matter what it is. Love demonstrated to you should be rewarded by your loyalty and generosity of demonstrating love in return. How many people have taken advantage of their loved ones by being lazy in their relationships and not showing a debt of gratitude.
- Show your debt of gratitude toward God by sharing the gospel. Christ paid a debt that we could not pay, we are debtors to each person that does not know Him as their Saviour.
- Making cookies for the neighbors that water your lawn when you go on vacation, the babysitter that loves and cares for your children, etc.
- Placing your hand on someone’s shoulder and telling them you are thankful for their service… a serviceman, veteran, or volunteer in your church or community.
- By taking a picture of a gift given to you or your children of you using the gift and e-mailing it or sending it to them. It shows you truly are grateful for something they gave and how you are using it.
- Expressing your gratefulness aloud. Telling others how someone else benefits you spreads love and gratefulness all around, especially within the earshot of the person that you’re bragging on.
What Unthankfulness Does
Unthankfulness does its own series of hurt and damage to the heart of the giver. Unthankfulness is a discouragement. It builds walls between people and hardens hearts. It is like the 9 healed lepers in the story of Luke 17 that received the benefits of Christ’s healing but never stopped to say thank you. Only one leper had the faith to turn around, thank Christ, and worship at His feet for the gift of healing. Jesus said to him, “…thy faith hath made thee whole.” It seems like gratefulness in this story was correlated to this healed leper’s faith.
I can think of many times when I did not extend gratefulness and how it created a breach in some of the relationships that I had with my family members or acquaintances. There are times when you can alter a relationship forever by not giving a true expression of thanks. Gratefulness needs to be expressed in word, action, or writing. If you are willing to sacrifice your relationships for selfishness, then you will lose and be lonely in the end.
To the Unthankful:
- Have you used up all your change because you have not invested in gratefulness?
- Do you have any people in your life that have begun to build a wall up between you because you consistently choose to be unthankful for their gifts and their sacrifices for you?
- Does laziness show an unthankful heart toward anyone in your life?
- Does a lack of unthankfulness show your faith is stunted like the 9 unthankful lepers?
To help you demonstrate Gratefulness:
- Which friend will you call and have a heart-to-heart with?
- Is there anyone you need to write a thank you note to?
- Who will you surprise by letting them know specifically how they have benefited you?
- How will you show your debt of love toward the Saviour for His salvation?
And now for one of my all time favorite quotes about gratitude/gratefulness:
Gratitude is the heart’s memory.
If the heart remembers the good, then it is grateful!
Other articles in this series: