Christian Attitude of Gratitude

Christian Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is my favorite national holiday because it’s one time when our nation seems to embrace a uniquely Christian virtue. We aren’t talking about the social grace of saying “thank you,” but what Webster calls “a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received without payment or obligation. A warm, appreciative response to kindness.” We call it a Christian attitude of gratitude.

Our society has moved to a “survival of the fittest” mentality. This philosophy says that if I have a blessing, it’s because I am more fit, and I have earned it. If I give a blessing, it is because I expect to get something in return. In contrast to this view, the Bible instructs followers of Jesus to have an attitude of gratitude—to be in constant thanksgiving. (See 2 Corinthians 9:11-12; Ephesians 5:4; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 2:7 and 4:2; 1 Timothy 2:1 and 4:3-4.) You develop and grow in this attitude because being thankful means caring about others more than yourself. The more mature a Christian becomes, the more gratitude they will have.

Most of the ills in society today are because we have turned away from having a Christian attitude of gratitude and have turned to the survival of the fittest mentality. Divorce happens when we don’t look for the good things our mate brings to us. We must be thankful for their strengths instead of dwelling on their weaknesses. Parents can damage children’s self-image by not expressing genuine gratitude for the positive things children bring to their lives. Old age becomes a real challenge when the family focuses on the burdens the senior brings to them instead of the blessings the person has given through the years.

Romans 1 describes the decadent world in which we live. Verses 21 and 22 tell about an ungrateful person: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

God does not instruct us to be thankful because He has a huge ego that needs praise. We need to be grateful for every blessing in life because that will shape us into the kind of person we should be. Be thankful to live in America, to have medical solutions for life’s ills, to have enough to eat, a warm home, and loved ones. Whatever blessings you have, don’t take them for granted. Develop a Chrisitan attitude of gratitude and have a thankful Thanksgiving.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Benefits of Thanksgiving

Benefits of Thanksgiving

In 1863, the Civil War was in progress when Abraham Lincoln made a Thanksgiving Day proclamation asking U. S. citizens to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise.” Special days of thanksgiving had been observed in the colonies for centuries beginning with the pilgrim thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with the Wampanoag people in 1621. It wasn’t until 1941 that Congress finally designated the fourth Thursday in November as “Thanksgiving Day” thus creating a federal holiday. What are the benefits of thanksgiving, and I don’t mean just the holiday?

A person’s belief system affects how they observe and participate in the holiday. As America has become more prosperous and science and technology have made our lives more comfortable, we have bought into the idea that we are the sole controllers of what we have and what we will have in the future. “Survival of the fittest” has led to a mindset that we must be the fittest in every area of life. Some religions have adopted this mantra to justify the extermination of those who are not part of their faith. Genocide, abortion, euthanasia, racism, and abuse of all kinds are rooted in the mindset that “survival of the fittest” produces.

God has always encouraged His children to view thanksgiving as essential. In Leviticus 22:29, God told the Israelites to participate in a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Jesus Christ in Matthew 5-7. turned the notion of survival of the fittest upside down. He gave statement after statement about behaviors and beliefs that did not promote the survival of the individual but submission to and promotion of others. In Ephesians 5:4, Paul takes all of the loose talk, crudeness, and covetous behavior and says, “Instead let there be thanksgiving.”

So what are the benefits of thanksgiving? I don’t mean just the holiday but the daily and weekly way we think and act? Look at the living things all around and the stars and planets in the night sky. Look at family and friends. Look in the mirror and reflect on how blessed we are to be alive. A person who is not looking to how they can subdue someone else or get what someone else has is a person who is at peace. When Jesus calls us to live at peace with everyone, turn the other cheek, give to others, and show mercy and gratitude to others, He calls us to the real, meaningful things in life.

Nobody likes to be involved in stress, fighting, bickering, and war. As long as “survival of the fittest” is our key to living, those destructive drives will be a part of our makeup. They jeopardize our health, our relationships, and our joy at being alive.

A key to joyous living is one of the benefits of thanksgiving.
An attitude of gratitude should be a daily, hourly activity. Pause to give thanks every time you eat. Spend some time looking at your family and those around you. For the past four days, we have talked about faith in God as a foundation for our lives. With that faith, you can be thankful that God has made you a person who doesn’t have to live in fear of death and dying. Rejoice in the knowledge that this life is only a small snippet of our total existence.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Holiday Season and the Black Friday Kickoff

Holiday Season Black Friday
We are at the beginning of the so-called Holiday Season which is supposed to be a time of religious significance, good will, love for others, and gift giving. The chances are that you have had some kind of reaction to “Black Friday.” In 1952 Black Friday was the name given to the day after Thanksgiving because it was the day when shopkeepers balance sheets turned black (positive) from red (loss) for the year.

What began as a commentary on business profits and margins has become a time of greed and in a few cases, even violence. In 2008 a crowd of shoppers at a Walmart in Valley Stream, New York, broke down the door to the store and trampled a 34-year-old employee to death. On the same day, two people were shot to death in an altercation over a toy in Palm Desert, California. In 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin, police arrested a woman who threatened to shoot other shoppers who objected to her cutting in line. In 2011 a woman at a Walmart at Porter Ranch, California, used pepper spray on fellow shoppers to get to the front of a line to buy a discounted Xbox. The list of abuse and violence on Black Friday is long and tragic.

Some of us can remember a time when gifts at Christmas were hand-made or involved food. Thanksgiving was a religious day recognizing how blessed we are individually and as a country. Christmas was a time of Christian celebration in song and art. Our emphasis on things has pushed us to compete for whatever is the current toy of the year. Television ads show us how important it is for us to give our mate or child a new car or an expensive piece of jewelry. For many people paying for holiday gifts goes on for months or even years,

Christians should reflect on the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-33, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or drink or even for your body and what clothes you shall put on. Is not life more than meat and your body more than your clothes? Look at the birds of the air, for they do not sow and they do not reap or gather into barns. Still, your Father feeds them. Aren’t you much better than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to your height? Why do you worry about clothing? Take a look at the lilies of the field, how they grow, and they don’t work at it… And yet even Solomon in all of his splendor was not arrayed like one of these… So take no thought saying what shall I eat or drink or what shall I wear. Your Father knows you have need of these things, but you should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be added to you.”

Don’t allow atheistic materialism to rob you of the great joys that come from times of thankfulness, helping others, and spending time with the Lord in thankfulness and joy at the opportunity you have to be a Christian and to bring blessings to others. Let’s make this holiday season a holy season.
–John N. Clayton

Thankfulness and Being Human

Thankfulness
We had just left a sandwich shop where we ate lunch. A woman with a smile on her face came up to our car window holding a sandwich. I rolled down the window to see what she wanted. She said, “Are you the ones who paid for my sandwich?” She said the employee in the store told her that a person ahead of her had paid, so she didn’t owe anything. I told her that I was glad for her, but we were not the ones who had done this generous act. As she went away, it was obvious that the small kindness had made her day, but she was disappointed that she didn’t get to express her thankfulness to her benefactor.

We have many people to thank, such as soldiers, police, firefighters, and teachers; but most of all our thankfulness should be directed toward God. There is something about humans that makes us want to express our gratitude. It’s part of what makes us different from the animals. Our pets are loyal to us because we feed them, and they get excited when they see us open the food container. But only humans are motivated to express true gratitude. The Psalms often express thankfulness to God for the things He has done. Reformer Martin Luther called thankfulness “the basic Christian attitude.” G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.”

We often show thankfulness toward each other, but our greatest debt of gratitude is to God. One evidence of God’s existence is that not only does He give us many good things, but He also has given us the desire and ability to say, “Thank you.” In Romans 1:21 the apostle Paul wrote about godless people, “…they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Thank you for reading our daily posts. We hope that you will express your thanks to God who has given us all good things.
–Roland Earnst © 2017