The Habit of Gratitude
from Moody Publishing
We often think of spiritual disciplines in individualistic terms. I should read my Bible. I should pray. I should give thanks. Or, some neglect personal habits and only study Scripture or pray when they gather with other believers. But neither extreme is healthy. We need to prioritize seeking to know God on our own and with others.
This applies to the practicing of thanksgiving, and maybe especially so. As we thank God together, it not only exalts God and emboldens our own faith but also encourages other believers.
In Psalm 95, the psalmist calls us to give thanks with one another and toone another. We not only meditate on the Bible for personal growth, but we do so to admonish one another with Scripture, to sing together, and to give thanks together.
The Christian life is lived out in community. It’s easy to be godly when reading your Bible in the privacy of your home. But how can you show patience, grace, kindness, mercy, and love apart from relationships? The Bible is full of “one another” commands central to the Christian walk, and you can’t do them in isolation. We not only need one another for our own growth, accountability, and encouragement, but we need one another as the community to pray together, share burdens together, confess sin together, rehearse and apply Scripture together, and give thanks together.
Both gratitude and grumbling spread because they’re interpersonal practices. They’re not just communal; they’re communicable. We can pass on a spirit of gratitude or grumbling, either building up or breaking down the community. We will either share life-giving gratitude that honors God or soul-sucking griping that dishonors Him.
Don’t underestimate how much you can influence others through simple words and actions. By giving thanks, sharing about God’s goodness, speaking God’s promises, or affirming others, you can be a source of good that helps others grow. Or you can discourage others through gossiping, complaining, venting in discontentment or jealousy, tearing people down, seeing and talking about the worst in others, and grumbling when you think life (or God) is unfair.
Ingratitude multiplied when Israel chose to gripe rather than give thanks to God. Instead of having hearts receptive to God’s gifts, their hearts became cold and calloused until even blessings were rejected. Like a devastating wildfire, grumbling spreads from one person to another through one disgruntled conversation at a time.
Gratitude does the opposite. As our words speak about God’s goodness—his attributes, his work in our life, his blessings, what he’s teaching us or doing in us, and where we see his hand around us—we stir up more faith and thankfulness in one another. Joy and worship reverberate out from small expressions of gratitude, much like water ripples out from a small drop in a bucket.
Give voice to God’s goodness. Practice thanksgiving together. Invite others to do the same by asking questions like, “What’s one thing you’re thankful to God for today?”