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The Virtues – Gratitude

Gratitude gives thanks for all things. In our country we set aside a day for giving thanks. It occurs during the work-week, so, many people are thankful for a day off — unless we are in one of the millions of service positions for which Thanksgiving is just another, or even a particularly busy, work day. During the course of our day of Thanksgiving we gather with family if possible, share a wonderful meal, watch football or any of a number of traditions, and maybe, even among people who are not particularly religious, say a group prayer of thanks.

I believe our Father in heaven receives all of these prayers with joy even though He doesn’t hear from most of these folks but once or twice a year. Because thanksgiving, or gratitude, is the natural posture of creation before the Creator. It is what we were born to do. That thirty seconds of gratitude directed to God, one day each year, is how we were created to live all the time. Thankful. Grateful.

“No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.” John 3:27 NLT

In the Old Testament, thanksgiving was the daily rhythm of the temple. The Psalms resound with declarations of thanks all through the day.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening,” Psalm 92:1

In the New Testament, the celebration around which the church gatherings flowed, was the Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving”. The Eucharist is known in some churches as Communion or the Lords Supper, the celebration of the wine and bread that Jesus initiated at the Last Supper with His disciples (Matthew 26:26-28).

In the same way that thanksgiving was the rhythm of the Old Testament temple, it is the core and strength of the New Testament gathering as well through the centrality of the Eucharist.

When our church-life is centered on the Eucharist, our life away from the church gathering is influenced to reflect that same gratitude.

And this is where we begin to reflect the God-honoring virtue of gratitude. The thing we need the most, forgiveness for our sin and the wholeness (salvation) that comes from being made truly alive in Christ, is something He had to do, we can never do that for ourselves. Consciously living out of that truth leads to a life of gratitude.

Not selfishly, thankful that I get something, but generously, thankful to God for His grace toward mankind. Since we are grateful to God we become grateful in general. Showing gratitude and thankfulness toward people for their intrinsic value and worth before God.

The opposite of gratitude is complaining which grows out of bitterness. The unredeemed, selfish, prideful heart, can never be truly grateful because it is never satisfied and is so easily offended.

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 NLT

God knows what is best. Believing this opens a gateway in your soul for virtuous gratitude before God and man. He knows what is best and will work out everything for our good (Romans 8:28).

Both good times and bad times are the same to the one who is giving thanks for all things by faith in the goodness and love of God. This is virtuous gratitude.