The Art of Being Thankful
OPEN: Back in the 80’s, a woman wrote an article I found interesting. She said that her cousin had invited them to “Come for a thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, March 20th.” She wrote: “She was not celebrating an early Thanksgiving. She was saying that all was well with her husband, who had finished a battery of hospital tests. “In our family,” she said “we sometimes have as many as ten thanksgivings in one year. They mark happy events for which there are no formal celebration dates: a job promotion, a graduate degree, a good medical report. Sometimes we celebrate with a dinner party, sometimes with a picnic or outing, but always with as many members of our clan as we can round up.”Order now
10 Thanksgivings a year… can you imagine what that would do to your diet???
And yet here in Colossians 3:17 we’re told that 10 Thanksgivings a year would not be enough for anyone that tried to follow Paul’s advice: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
In WHATEVER we do… every day of every year… we should be giving thanks. We should be known as a “thankful people”.
In fact, Colossians 2:7 declares we should be“…overflowing with thankfulness.”
And in Ephesians 5:20 we’re told that we should be “…ALWAYS giving thanks to God the Father FOR EVERYTHING, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We – as Spiritualists – should be known as a thankful and grateful people. And that should be true of us in EVERY aspect of our lives.
A few years ago Dr. Nick Stinnett of the Univ. of Nebraska conducted a series
of studies in an attempt to discover what characteristics were common in strong families. He and his researchers discovered six qualities. And the first quality and one of the most important to be found in strong families was that of appreciation. They concluded that families which were strong were strong because family members expressed appreciation for what each member DID and for who they WERE. In a similar study another researcher looked into the effect of praise in the workplace. His study showed that the ratio of praise to criticism in the workplace needed to be 4 to 1 before employees felt that there is a balance – that there had be 4 times as much praise as there was criticism before those employees felt good about their work and about the environment they worked in. This tells us that people need appreciation. They need praise. And they need these things 4 times as often as they receive criticism.
Many of us don’t understand this basic reality
ILLUS: My mom tells a story about my grandparents that I always get a chuckle over.. My grandfather who always teased my grandmother about her lack of interest in household chores. One day he came home with a gag gift – a refrigerator magnet that read: “Martha Stewart doesn’t live here.” The next day he came home to find the magnet holding up a slip of paper. The note read: “Neither does Bob Vila.”
Now that was meant as good humored fun, but there are homes where those kind of comments are not meant to be funny. They’re intended to be offensive. They’re meant to hurt… to cause pain.
(pause…) WHY does that happen? Well there are a number of reasons why it might… but one of the most basic reasons there are harsh words and hard feelings in a home is when there is a lack of thankfulness. When parents or children forget the blessing that their wife/ husband/ child/ parent actually is to them.
I told this story at convention about the email my son sent me when he was away at college. I am going to share it again. Because everything is perspective. “Dear Mom: Sorry I haven’t written sooner. My arm really has
been broken. I broke it, and my left leg, when I jumped from the second floor of my dormitory…when we had the fire. We were lucky. A young service station attendant saw the blaze and called the Fire Department. They were there in minutes. I was in the hospital for a few days. Angie, the service station attendant, came to see me every day. And because it was taking so long to get our dormitory livable again, I moved in with her. She has been so nice. I must admit that Angie is pregnant. Angie and I plan to get married just as soon as she can get a divorce. I hope things are fine at home. I’m doing fine, and will write more when I get the chance. Love, Your Son, Zachary
P.S. None of the above is true. But I did get a “C” in Sociology and flunked Chemistry. I just wanted you to receive this news in its “Proper Perspective!”
You see… thankfulness for my family is often a matter of having the right perspective as to what (who) is most important
Most of us are just naturally critical by nature. I know that I am. James 3: 9-10 reads: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” In other words, God knows we have unconsciously make critical comments. He knows we have a tendency to a critical spirit.. God knows that we tend to be UNCONSCIOUSLY critical of those around us…and so He says to us to consciously be thankful for ALL THINGS………. This is especially important in our homes… BECAUSE (as that expert I quoted earlier noted) a healthy home has an atmosphere where we compliment 4 times more than we criticize
A man by the name of Frank Fried had an excellent piece of advise: “Folks, the grass is not greener on that side of the fence. And the grass is not greener on this side of the fence.
The grass is greener where you water it.”
The way to grow a thankful heart is to turn my heart into a garden of
thanksgiving. My heart needs to be a place where I plant the seeds of thankfulness and fertilize and water that garden with constant tending.
In short… you and I need to practice thankfulness. And God says: the best place to start practicing thanksgiving is in His presence.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks TO GOD the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
Now… if we are thankful on a regular basis… what will change? Will it change the behavior of my spouse?
Will it change the behavior of my child?
I don’t know… but, I do know that using criticism is not the best way to modify people’s behavior.
It is a truism in our society that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. You can change things in this world by being critical and “in your face.” However, if you do that often enough, people begin to find ways of avoiding you. The critical people in this world aren’t much fun to be around.
ILLUS: One pharmacy posted this sign by their service bell: “Ring once for service, ring twice for poor service, ring 3 times for no service at all.”
It is just a truth of life that if I want to want someone to respond kindly to me it helps to express an attitude of gratitude.
It doesn’t matter what the results may be in the lives of those around you. God still commands that you and I be people of thanksgiving.
It’s worth noting that even if we can’t alter the behavior of others by our gratitude… this attitude can still have a powerful benefit in our lives. That benefit? While it may not change other around us… it will change us.
ILLUS: Missionary Benjamin Weir was held hostage in Lebanon and imprisoned under miserable conditions for 16 months. In his first interview after his release, he was asked how he spent his time and how he dealt with the boredom and despair. His answer stunned the reporters. He simply said, “Counting my blessings.” “Blessings?” they responded.
“Yes,” he explained. “Some days I got to take a shower. Sometimes there were some vegetables in my food. And I could always be thankful for the love of my family.”
Benjamin Weir discovered the power to overcome his circumstances by learning thankfulness He was physically in bondage… but spiritually and mentally he was free. Why? Because he had learned to “give thanks to the Father” even in the harshest of circumstances.
CLOSE: The point is this:
We need to be people who are known for our thankfulness…
Partly because of the change it can bring about in our families, but more importantly because of the change it can bring to our own lives and hearts.