[guestpost]Happy Thanksgiving to You! This is a re-post I wrote a while back, but it’s still appropriate for today. [/guestpost] 

The command to be thankful, to “give thanks” permeates scripture, appearing over 40 times.  It is a foundational heart attitude that God requires.

Why is that?

Because God is worthy, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s good for us.

Why give thanks?

1. It’s good for your spirit.

Thankfulness is good for your spirit because you are created in the image of God (Imago Dei).

When our human spirit acts in agreement with the Holy Spirit, then we are in a blessed condition. That’s the way we are designed, to be rightly aligned with the nature of God, which is love.

Expressing gratitude is an act of love. This is what God does. He overflows with acts of love.  That’s why giving thanks, like worship itself, is healthy for the human spirit. The human spirit is nurtured by doing what the Holy Spirit desires – “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8)

2. It’s good for your health.

Experiencing and expressing gratitude is literally good for your physical and emotional health, too.  According to studies at The Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, University of Michigan, benefits include:

1.    Measurable improvements in your mood.

2.    Better physiological health (heart rhythms and sleep patterns)

3.    Fewer physical symptoms (headaches/colds)

4.    Increased performance at work (cognitive functioning)

5.    Higher states of alertness, determination, and energy

6.    Sense of being connected to others

7.    Expressions of gratitude by one person tend to motivate others to express gratitude thus having a virtuous cycle started, as well as reciprocal behavior.

3. It’s the right thing to do.

God is worthy. It is good and right to honor Him with thankfulness. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. Psalm 145:3

Religions and philosophies have long embraced gratitude as an indispensable manifestation of virtue, and an integral component of health, wholeness, and well-being. University of California/Davis

Thanklessness, or ingratitude, is considered rude.  It is an attribute of narcissism, self absorption and an entitlement attitude.  It perpetuates selfishness and is ultimately unhealthy.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. (Romans 1:21 NLT)

Can a “dark and confused mind” be a form of mental illness? Could being habitually ungrateful drive you nuts?

4. How to be thankful. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

  • First, thank God for who He is. Don’t just thank Him for his gifts and blessings.  He is not a personal Santa Claus. Bless him for His essence of love and care as the Giver of “all good things”. He is your loving Father, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
  • Count your blessings and thank God for them.
  • Be thankful in good times and bad. Choose gratitude regardless of circumstance. Be thankful anyway. Job sets the example. “Though He slay me, I will trust Him.”
  • Be thankful for the people in your life.
  • Be thankful to your parents, regardless of how you feel about them. “Honor your father and mother that it may go well with you.” This is a lifelong commandment, not just for little children. Most of us need to cut our parents some slack and appreciate them despite their shortcomings.
  • Be thankful for your spouse, however flawed he or she may be. “Leave and cleave.” If you have a spouse, see the best in him or her.
  • Be thankful for your employment. A lot of people wish they had any kind of job. If you develop a complaining attitude about yours, you’ll end up with unemployment to complain about.
  • Be thankful for the nation where you live, however difficult life may be there. Pray for it to be blessed by Almighty God. He loves every tribe and people group. They are dear to his heart. Do not despise yours.

5. Express thanks this week.

Be intentional. Appreciate somebody verbally. Send a thank you card. Write a letter of appreciation to somebody. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

 Question: What are you thankful for?

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