Actor Denzel Washington once said: “It is impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time. I pray that you put your slippers way under your bed at night, so that when you wake up in the morning you have to start on your knees to find them. And while you’re down there, say ‘thank you.’ A bad attitude is like a flat tire. Until you change it, you’re not going anywhere.”
Like putting our slippers way under the bed, we need habits to help us be thankful.
Prayer is a habit for helping us to be thankful. In Philippians 4:6-7 we read, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Our prayers should be punctuated with expressions of gratitude.
Our attitude should be a vehicle for thanksgiving. In I Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”Being stuck in traffic is the perfect opportunity for expressing thanks. I can be grateful that I have a car. I can be grateful that I have someplace to go. I can be grateful that God will help me arrive at the exact time He wants me to be there. Being grateful is a much better response to a long line of cars than anger.
Worship is a time for thanksgiving. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5) As we faithfully worship God we focus on His character. God is good, God is loving, and God is faithful.
We live in a world that lacks these habits. Followers of Jesus are to be different. “Therefore, as chosen people of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in unity.” (Colossians 3:12-13) We are to dress for the occasion. The occasions of life will always put us in positions where we may choose to be unforgiving or filled with grace.
Richard Baxter once observed: “Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can…Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.” Thanksgiving is a habit to practice, even if we’re not yet good at it. Let’s try the best we can to be thankful in all of the situations of life.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com