What is Gratitude?
Gratitude. Simply put, it is the state of being grateful — feeling or showing an appreciation for a benefit received. We can be grateful for all sorts of benefits, such as family, friends, home, health, career, car, and so on. But is there more?
We should absolutely be grateful for these things, because every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17). However, we should also recognize that there is more — much more — to be grateful for. And in order to be grateful for these other things I am alluding to, we need to come to a place of humility.
Grateful hearts start with humbled hearts.
And being truly humble comes from knowing who God is and who we are.
Who is God?
Let’s be honest. None of us know God perfectly — not yet anyway. We are sinful people living in a fallen world. And because our sanctification is not yet complete, we allow our sin to separate us from God. Even though God has fully revealed Himself to us (Hebrews 1:2-3), our sin keeps us from seeing and knowing Him clearly. That said, even a small glimpse of who God is can begin to lead us to humility. So, who is He? (NOTE: This is just a short list and the scripture references are not all inclusive. As a sinner, I could not possibly answer this question fully.)
- God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. (Genesis 1:1-2:2, Colossians 1:16-17)
- He is holy and just, setting the standard for right living. (Psalm 145:17, Romans 7:12)
- He is merciful, gracious, and patient, yet does not let evil go unpunished. (Exodus 34:6-7)
- He abounds in goodness and truth. (Exodus 34:6)
- God’s loves perfectly, because He is love. (1 John 4:8)
- He is our only Provider, Comforter, and Saviour. (Matthew 6:25-34, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Psalm 68:19)
- He alone is wise. (Jude 1:25)
- He is the One true God. (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 44:6, Jeremiah 10:10, 1 Corinthians 8:6)
Who is Man?
Let’s be honest again. We know who we are. Apart from God, we are each a mess. No matter how hard we try to fool ourselves or others, we know that we are far from perfect. We may arrogantly try to fix our flaws and make ourselves right with God, but we just can’t. Here is a short list of who we actually are.
- We are created, not the Creator. (Genesis 1:26-27)
- We come from dust. (Genesis 3:19)
- We frequently do what is right in our own eyes instead of consulting with God and accepting His holy standards. (Proverbs 21:2)
- Apart from Christ, we prefer the darkness over light — because in the light our sin is exposed. (John 3:19)
- We are liars and haters and lawbreakers. (1 Timothy 1:8-10)
- We are self-serving and our hearts are deceitfully wicked. (Proverbs 28:26, Jeremiah, 17:9, 2 Timothy 3:2-5)
- We are in need of a Saviour. (Romans 3:23, 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9)
And yet, despite how radically opposite we are from God — He is holy, we are anything but… Despite how sinful we are… Despite the death that we deserve — death that would separate us from His love for all eternity… Despite how much God hates sin…
He loves us.
We don’t deserve Him.
He has every right to turn His back on us. To forget us. To destroy us. To grind us back into dust.
But He doesn’t.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8-9)
Instead of giving us exactly what we deserve He gives us the reward that only Jesus deserves. When we put our faith in the work of cross ALONE:
- He blesses us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)
- He makes us holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4)
- He adopts us into His family (Ephesians 1:5)
- He redeems us through the blood of His Son and forgives us of our sins (Ephesians 1:7)
- He lavishes us in His grace (Ephesians 1:7-8)
- He will one day call us home to be fully one with Christ (Ephesians 1:10)
- He also seals and protects us with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)
God is holy. We are desperately wicked. Yet He loves us and lavishes good gifts on us anyway. I encourage you to look up the passages referenced in this post, especially the ones in Ephesians. As you read them ask God to soften your heart and make you more humble than ever before. Then, as you become more aware of how low you are and how high He is, respond to His grace and compassion with a grateful heart.
Only by grace,