What is “Gratitude”? According to dictionary.com: Gratitude is “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful”. According to Collins English Dictionary: Gratitude is “a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favours”. When I look up the word in Nave’s Bible Dictionary, I am told to look at the word Thankfulness. Gratitude then, is a form of thankfulness. Thankfulness, as defined in the Strong’s Concordance, means to be grateful, to express gratitude. The two words can’t be defined without each other.
Showing gratitude, in whatever way is appropriate in the circumstance, time and place is a powerful thing. Between people, such a display will garner responses ranging from mere acknowledgement to increased levels of bonding to potentially a cheerfully vicious cycle if the recipient is prone to the act of “doing” or “showing” in return. Occasionally seeing two people trying to out-do each other in showing appreciation can result with someone commenting that they’ve joined the “Mutual Admiration Society”.
Generally speaking, most people like being around someone who shows appreciation for what they’ve done, said, etc. Very few people run away from those who are grateful for what they’ve done, said, or the efforts they went to deal with something in the receiver’s life. Granted there is the odd person that will go so far overboard as to send the recipient of their gushing scrambling for the hills. Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence in the life of the average human being. Unfortunately, the concept of displaying thankfulness, gratitude or appreciation for another has become so rare that it is now taught in relationship books, courses, and videos. When doing a quick google search for the dictionary definitions above, a business article was given a title suggesting gratitude as a way of improving success in business endeavors.
People want to know they are appreciated. People want to know that what they do for others, matters. For most, this doesn’t have to manifest as an accolade with flowers and a trophy on the wall. They’d simply be happy with nothing more than a thank you, a smile, or a nod of appreciation. When it comes to this concept of gratitude, the saying is true that a little goes a long way. Just knowing that a person’s words or efforts on behalf of another were appreciated can make all the difference in that person’s day and sometimes in their life. Being appreciated naturally puts a smile on a person’s heart and changes their emotional wellbeing for the better. The world seems like a slightly brighter place when a person receives another’s praise, no matter how small it might be demonstrated.
Readers of my series, “Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey” may remember how often this word cropped up. A quick search of that word in my book files revealed use of that word 114 times spread across practically every single chapter in all 6 volumes! Except Chapters 1 and 7. An entire day’s devotional is dedicated to this subject in Chapter 12 of Volume 5. A free excerpt is linked here for you to download or read in your browser at your leisure. This excerpt talks about how praise draws us near to God, and by nature of who God is, draws Him to us. Praise is a form of gratitude and the Scriptures are full of examples of when praise caused God to draw near.
- The first thing God had taught me about showing Him gratitude, was the benefit of peace coming to my heart and mind.
- The second thing was the discovery that the more I focused on all God was doing for me and had done in the past, the greater my ability to trust Him increased.
- The third thing I learned was that its hard to not show deep levels of gratitude without developing deeper affection for the recipient of that gratitude. This is true whether it’s a human interaction or interaction with God. The greater the level of appreciation and gratitude, the greater one’s affections tend to be toward the other. Learning to express gratitude toward God on a regular basis actually bolsters and serves to grow one’s affection for God.
These three lessons have a snowball effect that I go into in the free excerpt being offered here. But even beyond the relational aspect of learning to express gratitude on a more regular basis, is the domino effect created when God shows up because of that heart-felt display.
First off, God does indeed show up! God showed me that He is no more immune to gratitude and appreciation than any human being alive. Show God He’s appreciated, show God His efforts on our behalf are welcomed, express honest gratitude and He WILL show up! You may not always feel His presence, but that doesn’t change the fact that He is true to His Word when He says that He shows up in the praises of His people!
Secondly, because He shows up, the enemy has to flee! There isn’t room for both God and the enemy of our souls in the same area as someone who is actively praising God for all He’s done and for all He is.
Thirdly, and notice how all these points are building on each other. . . gratitude toward God produces the desire to humble ourselves before Him in a way that pridefulness and self-sufficiency won’t allow. True heart-felt, deep-seated gratitude will cause us to mentally, emotionally, spiritually and sometimes even physically lower ourselves, our heads or even our entire bodies, before God in a manner that is reverent, respectful, honouring, and submissive. This is the fourth thing God taught me, that developing an attitude of gratitude produces surrender and humility toward God. Scripture tells us:
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Notice the order there. Submission comes first, this is followed by resistance to the enemy who will then flee. The two actions of submission and resistance are mutual. It is impossible to submit to God and the devil at the same time. Submitting to one results in resisting the other. It is impossible to partially submit to both although many today think they can do that. God sees their hearts. At various times and places in Scripture, God tells us that His Chosen People worshipped Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him and at times, outright serving other gods. God doesn’t want lip-service! People who think they are pulling the wool over God’s eyes by engaging in praise and worship on Sunday only to revere the enemy’s ways during the week, are sadly mistaken! God sees our hearts more clearly than even we do ourselves. Christ said:
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Understanding that serving God or satan are mutually exclusive allegiances, James 4:7 makes more sense. The issue of submission then, is all that remains to be solved. Submission doesn’t come easily in the natural. Mankind is far too proud to submit to anyone who is deemed unworthy of that submission. This is one of the underlying themes that work their way through my series from Volume One through to Volume Six. The more I learned about gratitude toward God for all He was and was doing in my life and that of my children, the easier it was for me to submit to Him whenever times came where God felt He had to engage in pruning, discipline, or change of some kind. Consequently I am able to write to you from a position of experience in this very issue.
Developing an attitude of gratitude draws me near to God. It draws God near to me. It proves to me that God is trustworthy. It develops in me the desire to submit to God because of His trustworthiness in my life. That submission to God automatically places me in God’s camp and away from the camp of the enemy. There is only room for God in a heart filled with gratitude. There is no room for the devil in that same space. In fact, when God comes to occupy that space, the devil has no choice but to take off as fast as he’s able.
This principle of gratitude leading to praise leading to God’s presence leading to banishment of the enemy is the guiding principle behind a number of battles in which God sent the army of Israel onto the field with the singers, dancers and musicians going out first! They were followed by the Ark of the Covenant which God appointed to carry His presence, and THEN the armies of Israel with their swords and shields followed. The songs and shouts of praise not only instilled confidence, peace, and complete trust in the God of Israel, but God’s presence showing up in the camp caused the enemy to flee, to be confounded, to be thrown into disarray, thrown into confusion, etc. Why? Because there was only room for God on that field. There was no room for both God and those who would fight against He and His Chosen People! Victory was always guaranteed where there was praise in the camp!
One apparent exception bears noting. This was the battle of AI, which was the next battle right after the amazing victory over Jericho! God sent out the Israeli armies, but they were badly beaten back. The story goes on to state that sin had been hidden in the camp and once that sin was rooted out, victory was once again achievable. Submitting to God means being obedient to His commands and His ways. When we fail to submit and choose to do things our own way, as had been the case with one soldier hiding loot he was not authorized to take under his tent, we hinder God’s victory in our lives. Remember a proud heart finds it difficult to submit, and submission is required to drive out the enemy. Submission becomes easier when we have been humbled before God because of deep appreciation for who He is and all He’s done.
It should stand to reason then, for the victorious Child of God, that one of the banners God’s people need to bring with them into every area of their lives, is the banner of Gratitude. It truly is a many-splendored thing!