Cultivating a Thankful Heart
By Jill Briscoe
Do you want to do the will of God? Then “cultivate a thankful heart.” So often we think that doing the will of God means sacrifice, or going to a far-off culture with the gospel, or being persecuted, etc. The will of God can be all these things, but it will only be some of those things for some of us. Developing a thankful heart is the will of God for all of us who profess to love and serve Jesus.
My husband, Stuart, preaches a wonderful sermon called “the gratitude attitude.” I need to listen to it regularly. I find my rebel heart much more engaged with the “bratitute attitude.” Being discontent comes naturally to the race from Eden who weren’t content with paradise! Living with resentment is quite understandable in the sinner, but what part does it play in the lives of the redeemed? How can sinners saved by grace dare to whine and mutter their way through life? It all started in Eden when Eve, having bitten into the apple, began to whine about it being too sour, or not hard enough, or not as nice as a Granny Smith’s! Her dissatisfaction was catching and she hastened to find a recruit for her cause. Adam bit – and so it began.
I call it the G virus or the grumble germ. From the moment man moved outside the garden gate, grumpy human beings have grumbled their way through the centuries. And neither does it stop when we are lost to grace. The forces that tempted man at the dawn of ‘man time’ are the same forces that tempt us to be unthankful and resentful today. Satan still whispers, “If you can’t think of anything to whine about because you’re trying to cultivate a thankful heart, I’ll give you a hand. Have an apple!”
He tempts us to think we never have enough of anything or anybody. “You poor thing,” he hisses. “That husband of yours is always out looking after other people. He doesn’t have anything left for you! I’d complain if I were you. When he comes in tonight try pouting until he notices and then when he asks you what’s wrong say, ‘Nothing!’ Make him guess what’s wrong.” We whine about the fact that we don’t have enough money, or time for ourselves, our church, our friends. Have you noticed it’s not that we have nothing? It’s just that something in our hearts called the ‘greed need’ is telling us we would like just a little bit more! The devil is into this “little bit more” thing. Have you noticed nothing is ever enough? But then paradise wasn’t enough for Adam and Eve, so what’s new? Next time you hear the hiss of the snake in your garden, resist him and say “thank you Jesus” out loud – he will disappear in a hurry. The evil can’t stand being around thankful Christians. If you’re going to cultivate a thankful heart, try going to sleep singing hymns and spiritual songs. Allow the wind of His Spirit to grace you with a “gratitude attitude.”
Having traveled extensively in Third World countries these last years, I have been greatly convicted by the attitude of my sisters and brothers who live incredibly difficult lives with much to complain about. But what we would call hardship, they call inconvenience. While teaching in a restricted country where a knock on the door could mean imprisonment for daring to gather to study the Scriptures, I thought about all the whining we do in the West. We, who are drowning in our freedoms, comforts, and materialism get hardship and inconvenience mixed up. These people don’t! I asked the Lord to show me how to, like them, cultivate a thankful heart. Here are a few practical suggestions: Stop whining! Go on, you can do it; it’s a decisio. Count your blessings. Choose one blessing a day to thing about. Share something you are thankful about with your husband, parents, or friend. Write a personal note to someone you’ve never thanked for something. And Smile at God. That’s called praise!
And remember “a thank-you a day keeps the devil away!” He hates it when you’re thankful, but God loves it! Who do you want to please?