What Thankfulness Says About Us

How thankful we are reveals the health of our souls.

When the apostle Paul describes what our being filled with the Spirit looks like, he doesn’t point to mountain top experiences or miraculous spiritual gifts; he points to thankfulness:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:18-20

When Paul describes what our being governed by the peace and word of Christ looks like, he doesn’t point to an absence of conflict or our level of theological sophistication; he points to thankfulness:

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:15–16

•When Paul describes what our living in the will of God looks like, he doesn’t point to how well our rolls match our strengths and aspirations; he points to thankfulness:

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

When Paul describes what our freedom from immorality and sin, looks like, he doesn’t point to the absence of temptations; he points to thankfulness:

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:3–4

If we want to know how healthy our souls are, we should check our levels of gratitude.

How Thankfulness Protects Us

We should monitor our gratitude, not merely for our spiritual health, but also for our spiritual protection. Gratitude is immensely (and subtly) powerful. Gratitude is what we experience when we perceive that what we have received is an undeserved gift of God’s grace. It is a fruit of humility; it’s inherently unselfish. We don’t feel true gratitude toward ourselves, but only towards someone else who treats us better than we deserve. That’s how Joseph felt being entrusted as Potiphar’s chief steward.

The more thankfulness is present in us, the less vulnerable we are to sin, the more resilient we become. That’s why the Bible talks so much about thanksgiving.

Thankful people have set their eyes on God Hebrews 12:2,

Recognise how much grace we are receiving right now 2 Corinthians 9:8,

Trust Him to cover all our sin and work our painful past for good Romans 8:28,

Thankful people look to Him for all we need tomorrow and into eternity Philippians 4:19.

Thankful people learn to be content in God ‘in whatever situation’ Philippians 4:11

Be Thankful

Cultivating thankfulness should be one of our core strategies in helping us live the Jesus life. In our small groups and accountability groups, we should encourage each other to ‘be thankful’ Colossians 3:15

Not out of guilty obligation, but out of an unashamed desire to be happy and joyful Thankful people are not only the most spiritually healthy and spiritually protected but very often the happiest. Cultivating thankfulness is not easy. We all need help, and thank God help is available. But there is no thankfulness hack — no four easy steps to a grateful heart. It’s as hard as habit-building. We begin to train our heart-eyes to look for God’s grace — in all circumstances.

This looking must become habitual. And habits are built by doing them every day. But it is worth the effort. Thankfulness is one of the most powerful affections God has given us the capacity to experience.

The more it grows in us, the more spiritual health we will experience and the less influence sin will exercise over us.

Let’s be a thankful people