According to Psalm 22:3, God lives in the praises of his people. The revelation of God’s presence is made known when and where he is worshiped. If we are to live continually aware of the presence of God, we must live with “an attitude of gratitude” — a phrase that has, unfortunately, lost its significance because of thoughtless overuse in our culture.
Living with an attitude of gratitude means being thankful in all circumstances, which is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18). While we cannot change the circumstances of our lives, we can change the atmosphere of our lives through the power of praise. When we give thanks to God, we move from negativity, pessimism, and cynicism, to enthusiasm, contentment, and joy.
We often forget that ingratitude is a sin against God. It reveals pride, arrogance and self-centeredness. Gratitude opposes destructive attitudes such as fear, bitterness, unforgiveness, and despair that drag us down and can even cause damage to us physically.
When we express gratitude, it changes how we respond to our circumstances. We overflow with goodwill toward not only God but also toward others. An attitude of gratitude leads us to be generous with our time, possessions, talents, and compassion. A Christian life marked by gratitude accomplishes three things:
Jesus is magnified
God is glorified when we praise him. He wants us to make the most of every moment he’s given us. So when we wake up in the morning or before we go to bed at night, we should thank God for the opportunity that he’s given us to live for his glory.
God is not dependent upon our praise. As Jesus said to the Pharisees, if his disciples do not proclaim his name, “the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). But praising God in gratitude changes our hearts and puts him in his rightful place as the Lord of our lives. Praising the Lord gives us power for our day-to-day life. I don’t know what trial you may be facing today, but whatever it is, praise will help bring you through it.
Others are edified
I often hear the adage that says, “People would rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” Now, of course, I’ll be the first to tell you that we must proclaim the Gospel with words. After all, it’s the calling the Lord placed on my life. But God’s love for us should overflow to our neighbors; we should preach in the way we live our lives every day. That tangible “sermon” provides one of the most powerful validations of the message of the Gospel. When we give thanks, we show others that we can live in the face of conflict and crisis with an unshakeable hope in God. You would be amazed at how many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, receive supernatural encouragement when you proclaim his goodness regardless of your circumstances.
As the Church, God has equipped us to proclaim his message of love and hope to our generation. When we glow with gratitude, the world sees our joy and experiences our peace. We essentially become walking Gospel presentations. The impact of a grateful heart and a humble worshiper is impossible to measure. It is greater than all of the evangelistic methods that we could ever conceive.
Gratitude multiplies the Church
Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). If you have ever participated in a corporate worship setting, then you know that God is present. If prayer brings your heart to heaven, praise will bring heaven to your heart. One day, we will dwell in God’s very presence when we see Him face-to-face. Until then, we gather corporately and experience a taste of heaven on earth.
When we think about what God has done for us, we can’t help but thank him. Not just because of the way we feel, but because of what we know to be true.
So, this Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks not because all things are good, but because God is always good.
Dr. Jack Graham is the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America. He is the author of the acclaimed Unseen, and his PowerPoint Ministries broadcasts are available in 92 countries and are heard daily in more than 740 cities. Follow him @jackngraham.