Thankfulness | Sarah White
Thankfulness: the consciousness of benefit received; the expression of thanks.
We often think of thankfulness as a feeling of gratitude when, really, I’m convinced it is more of a posture. In our daily lives, in our emotionally charged, feelings based culture, we easily find ourselves swinging on a pendulum of inconsistency. Amidst our ever changing feelings and emotions, those which are tossed to and fro by every wave of circumstance, person, and place, remains one constant. That is, if and only if we are anchored. The anchor of constance that firmly grounds us and causes us to withstand changing environments and events is the Truth. The very Word of God.
Unchanged generation after generation. As true today for an American in 2017 as it was for the Hebrew people in the Old Testament as they looked forward to a Savior in B.C. times.
As I read through the stories recorded within scripture of Israel’s deliverance from slavery and oppression and its journey into the promised land, I can’t help but see a mirrored image of entitlement and ungratefulness present today. We desire the Lord’s blessing and often want it now. When He provides, we are so thankful and praise Him for it. When we are in a season of drought, we sink into discontentment and disobedience.
When our attitudes and actions are so inconsistent, it is a direct reflection of a deeper issue - subjective gratefulness rather than objective gratefulness.
Subjective gratefulness is easy and what the world expects. When things are good and we are happy, we are thankful. But objective gratefulness has nothing to do with external, situational happiness; it has everything to do with an internal posture.
The object of true biblical thankfulness is the person of Jesus Christ.
On this thanksgiving, and every single day, I want to be truly thankful. I don’t want to just feel warm and fuzzy inside because I love my family, have more than I deserve, and am enjoying life and think “there’s a ton to be thankful for.” That’s great and such a blessing, don’t get me wrong. But those external things can change apart from our control. The one thing that is constant through change is Jesus. The living Word of God.
If I get caught up thanking God for everything He’s given me and don’t just sit at His feet in total awe of Him, I’m really missing it.
I’ve been so convicted lately about such a simple but profound question: do I spend more time talking about God than I spend talking to Him? In ministry I can get so burnt out on “discipling” yet neglecting to be discipled. I can teach scripture on overload yet struggle to apply it. And I think that aligns so closely with this topic of gratefulness. Do I find myself so grateful for what God has done for me but only casually grateful for God Himself?
If we look at our lives and analyze the way we spend our time, I believe we will quickly come to some realizations. Anyone can live a life of subjective thankfulness but when that thankfulness becomes objective, that’s when heart transformation in the life of a Christ follower is evident. The life of one who is fixed on the person of Jesus, not primarily for what He has done but for us but for who He is.
So, what is driving our attitudes and the things we do and say? It is the gratefulness that is rooted deep within us. If that gratefulness is subjective, I can assure you it will change because it is based on feeling, as with anything we allow to be motivated by our emotions. And I’m guilty of this more than I’d like to admit.
But if that gratefulness is objective, it will be fixed on a holy and loving God, affirmed by His constant character, and rooted in His Truth. To be objectively grateful is to be wise. Wisdom, as affirmed throughout scripture, is knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ. Deep, intimate knowledge of WHO HE IS. To know Him is to love Him and to love Him is to live with a heart posture of “consciousness of benefit received; the expression of thanks” to a God who is not a part of my life, but is my life itself.
And let us not be deceived, the benefit received is not salvation, but the Savior.
- Sarah White | Link Campus Shepherd