In this series, we’re looking at four ways developing a discipline of gratitude can help us grow spiritually. These habits move us beyond the emotion of gratitude into expressions of humility and praise, and an awareness of God’s good work in our lives beyond the thing we’re presently grateful for.
I think one of the most important ways that gratitude moves us beyond feelings of fulfillment into regular worship is by reminding us of God’s ongoing work in the world. We feel gratitude when we sense his movement, when we become aware of the very small part we play in his very big plan of redemption. And from that posture of humility and gratitude, we go on to worship and obey. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. But as Paul explains it, things go wrong when we fail to give thanks.
In Romans 1, Paul talks about the “wrath” of God that is being poured out on those who refuse to follow him. He says that “since creation, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” It wasn’t just a straight line, though, from recognizing God but refusing to obey. Instead, the falling away began much more subtly. Paul says that upon understanding that God is, they “neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,” which then led to “their thinking to become futile and their foolish hearts to become darkened.” It’s a slippery slope into rebellion and disobedience. And the first step down, according to Paul, is an ungrateful heart.
But we don’t have to take that first step. We don’t have to remain trapped in habits of inattentiveness and ingratitude. When we experience the alignment of things going our way, or when we feel the Spirit’s encouragement even when things don’t, something as simple as a look toward heaven and a whisper of “thank you” throughout our days can be a reminder that God is good and deserves our praise.
Find earlier posts in the series by clicking on the link below: