This post comes from Doug Fields and Matt McGill at YouthMinistry.com. It's an excellent reminder of how blessed most of us are, and what our proper response should then be. Trust it ministers to you as it did me, and I hope you have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
BH . . .
HOW THANKFULNESS CHANGES OUR HEART
This week, we’re going to explore EIGHT WAYS thankfulness and gratitude can transform our heart from the inside out. Use these for your own edification or re-teach them to your teenagers.
1. THANKFULNESS RE-FOCUSES MY PERSPECTIVE
It’s easy to complain and point out problems, no one ever grumbles their way into a better attitude. Fortunately thankfulness can shift our focus to the blessings we’ve received from God. No matter how bad things get, in Jesus there is always reason to be thankful. It’s our responsibility to receive God’s gift and thank him.
2. THANKFULNESS INCREASES MY HUMILITY
Every blessing in our lives is a gift from God and not something we could have created or earned on our own. Everything belongs to God, and the only way we “have” something is because of his generosity. Because of the numerous blessings received, it’s easy for a feeling of entitlement to slowly creep into our lives and darken our hearts. Thankfulness turns on the light and recognizes God as the provider for our needs.
3. THANKFULNESS BUILDS MY FAITH
Gratitude recognizes the past work of God in our lives. When we remember God’s faithfulness, we position our hearts to trust him to provide for our future. God has given us everything we’ve needed, and he will continue to give us what we need. Developing the habit of being thankful also creates the capacity to trust God during the lean times.
4. THANKFULNESS CHANGES DISPAIR INTO JOY
There’s a lot of pain in this world and sometimes the ugliness is overwhelming and overpowering. Thankfulness doesn’t deny the evil, but it does open the door for joy to enter the scene. Lasting joy is a promise the world makes but can’t deliver, but when we remain in Christ, his joy is a gift for every believer.
5. THANKFULNESS RE-ORDERS MY PRIORITIES
It doesn’t take a busy holiday season for our priorities to get out of whack. As youth workers, most us have so much going on that it becomes really easy to major on the minors (issues) and slip into a selfish mode of living. A grateful heart is more open and aware of God’s work in our lives. Being thankful helps us understand what’s REALLY important in the grand scheme of things and moves us beyond the busyness of the moment.
6. THANKFULNESS CHALLENGES OUR WANTS
For both of us, the closer we grow to Jesus, the more we realize many of our “needs” are really about our “wants.” No, we’re not too excited to admit this, but this is a reality that we’ve become aware of in our spiritual journey. Thankfulness can turn our hearts into a fertile soil for contentment to grow into full bloom. Learning to be content in every situation is a measure of spiritual maturity. The power of “I WANT” is weakened in the light of “I’M THANKFUL.”
7. THANKFULNESS BREAKS THE SHACKLE OF ENVY
When our desires run wild and unchecked (and aren’t satisfied), the result is envy. Few things can rob one of peace like envy. When it gets really bad, envy also destroys community by morphing into jealousy. This happens when we lose our capacity to be excited for others. This is a particularly deep and dark pit of selfishness. When we’re trapped by envy and jealousy, the only way out is thankfulness for what we do have, and for what others have, too.
8. THANKFULNESS ENHANCES OUR COMPASSION
We have a lot, not just materially, but also spiritually. When we are thankful for the spiritual gifts we have in Christ, we can’t help but to have greater compassion for those who aren’t in God’s family.
3 John 8