When we read the teachings of Jesus in Matthew chapters 5 through 7, we see how different they are from any other religious teaching in the world. Following those teachings would benefit all of the inhabitants of this planet. Jesus taught an essential attitude toward possessions and wealth. I have always enjoyed the phrase “attitude of gratitude.”
Americans have moved from an attitude of gratitude to an attitude of entitlement. There is no reason to give thanks for something if it was owed to us in the first place. We seem to jump from one “gimmie festival” to another as we go through the holidays. The result of this is stress, worry, anxiety, and all of the physiological disorders that go with this self-induced pressure.
Many years ago, Dr. Stephen Post, a physician at Case Western Medical School, shared some data on how people benefit from an attitude of gratitude in Guideposts Magazine (November 2007, page 78):
- Just 15 minutes a day focusing on things you’re thankful for will significantly increase your body’s natural antibodies.
- Naturally grateful people are more focused mentally and measurably less vulnerable to clinical depression.
- A grateful state of mind induces a physiological state called resonance that’s associated with healthier blood pressure and heart rate.
- Caring for others is draining. But grateful caregivers are healthier and more capable than less grateful ones.
- Recipients of donated organs who have the most grateful attitudes heal faster.
How do Christians develop a natural gratitude that affords them these benefits? In the Psalms, the Hebrew word for thanks occurs 31 times. Psalms is a worship book that concentrates on praise to God. Thanksgiving is a vital part of the praise and worship of God. In the New Testament, there are 50 occurrences of the word “thanks.” The Hebrew word “towdah” and the Greek word “eucharista” convey pure worship and are translated “thanks.” Giving, being thankful, feeling gratitude for our blessings is pure worship, and it culminates in service to others.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27, NIV). Materialism is a serious source of pollution to our spiritual living. An attitude of gratitude can help to clear that pollution.
— John N. Clayton © 2019
This post is adapted from an article in the Does God Exist printed journal in 2009. You can read the entire article HERE.