May I get onto a personal soap box for just a moment?
Thanksgiving: It’s supposed to be a day to give thanks, right? I mean, it’s kind of like in the name… right?
But, far too often (at least in my family), all of the focus seems to be on the Turkey, the cranberry sauce, and maybe even football.
In fact, the current trend seems to be relabeling Thanksgiving as “Turkey Day”.
And, opening stores with “Black Friday” deals starting on Thanksgiving so that, instead of taking time to give thanks for what we have, we can rush out and try to find satisfaction in more stuff? I am not a fan.
What has happened to the concept of pausing to give thanks for all of the wonderful gifts that God has given to us? When did gratitude become a chore, something that we roll our eyes and do out of obligation before diving into the food?
Do we even know how to be grateful? Maybe it’s something we should spend some time thinking about and learning.
Because, here’s the amazing truth: Gratitude has some really surprising benefits!
1. Gratitude blesses the one who gives the gift.
Have you ever, in kindness and love, reached out and given someone a gift – only to receive absolutely no acknowledgement of the gift?
You begin to wonder, “Did ‘Sally’ get my gift? Was she offended by it for some reason? Or, does she just not care?”
When there is no acknowledgement, the giver is left hanging, confused, frustrated, and disappointed.
But, have you ever given someone a gift and received warm thanks? When the recipient of your gift acknowledges your kindness and love with appreciation, it makes your whole day, doesn’t it?
Gratitude blesses the giver of the gift.
The greatest and most loving of all givers is God. He delights to give His children good gifts.
Are you blessing God by intentionally taking time to acknowledge His goodness and to thank Him for His gifts?
2. Gratitude changes the one who receives the gift.
Gratitude not only blesses the giver of the gift, it also blesses the receiver.
Stop and think about it:
Let’s say that a little child picks three dandelions from his yard. When this child proudly presents these “flowers” to his mommy, he is doing more than weeding. He is bringing her a precious gift – and it has nothing to do with the dandelions.
This child is bringing his mommy flowers because he loves her. He thinks that she is special. And, he wants her to know it.
Now, the dandelions aren’t much of a gift.
But, when the mom stops to acknowledge the love, kindness, thoughtfulness, and even sacrifice (the child stopped playing to pick those flowers for her!) that prompted this gift, she will realize what her child is saying with these dandelions. “I love you! With this little fistful of dandelions, I want you to know how much I care about you.”
If the mom is busy and distracted, she will see a fistful of dandelions. If she is overwhelmed by her circumstances, she will not be able to see the gift for what it truly is.
But, if this mom slows down to express true gratitude to her son, if she stops and really thinks about the meaning of this gift, she will be blessed. She will get a smile on her face.
Her son’s gesture of love has the power to put her difficult circumstances into perspective – if she sees her son’s gift with a heart of gratitude.
Gratitude changes the recipient of the gift.
Gratitude for God’s gifts changes… us!
God loves to give us gifts. And God’s gifts are priceless, far surpassing what we can even comprehend.
And, each one of God’s gifts are telling us: “You are loved. You are valued. I am with you.”
The eternal God in heaven loves to bestow gifts upon you. When was the last time that you stopped to think about that?
I promise you that, no matter what you are going through right now, the thought of God’s gifts and love to you will help you put your circumstances into perspective.
3. Gratitude spills over to people outside of the gift.
Have you seen the facebook posts bragging about someone’s gift?
Maybe a woman posts a picture of her desk at work with a large Frappuchino in the middle. Underneath, she writes about how she was having such a terrible day – and then her co-worker surprised her with her favorite drink.
What does this public display of gratitude do? It makes other people who read it think, “Wow. I wish I had a co-worker like that.”
Gratitude spills over to people outside of the gift.
So, let me ask you… When was the last time that your gratitude to God spilled over to someone else?
When was the last time that your joyful thanksgiving lifted the spirits of a Christian friend and reminded him of the depth of God’s love? When was the last time that your gratitude to God caused an unsaved neighbor to think, “Wow. I wish I believed in a God like that.”?
This Thanksgiving, let’s intentionally cultivate a heart of thankfulness.
How about you? Will you you let your heart of gratitude bless God, put a smile on your own face, and overflow to the people around you?
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