We all want to run to get the prize. We all want to make a difference. That’s what this I’M IN Series has been about. Do you know there’s one key thing that every one of us can do to make this happen? This thing is so powerful that it alone can make people better, more generous, honest, and kind. It can even make you a happier person, and make everything better without a single lesson in morality, without a seminar, without new relationships, without spending money.
What is it? Gratitude. It is impossible to be a happy person if you are not a grateful person. It is impossible to be a good person if you are ungrateful. We need to develop a mindset that looks for God’s grace at all times.
This is what it means to run with gratitude:“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”( 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).In all circumstances give thanks because it’s God’s will for you. You can thank God in every circumstance because God is in control. He can bring good out of evil. He can turn around the stupid mistakes you make. No matter what happens, God isn’t going to stop loving you. There are a hundred things to be thankful for in any circumstance, even when the circumstance stinks.
Why is running with gratitude so important? For starters, the healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude. It increases your immunities. It makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. Ungrateful people are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough. if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.
It is good to give thanks to God. Ungratefulness is destructive: spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally. Unexpressed gratitude communicates ingratitude. Unexpressed gratitude is experienced as rejection. If you are a person who is not grateful, it is doing a lot of damage to you and the people around you.
Thanksgiving is a life-changing decision based in reality.
How to we run with gratitude?
Recognize the Good. Gratitude means recognizing the good that is already yours.At times I reflect on the situation in the Garden of Eden.Adam and Eve had everything they needed except for access to one small tree.It seems as though resisting that tree would be easy—there must have been thousands of other eligible trees.But, Adam and Eve began to think about the one tree (with the help of that slick snake). In that moment, their focus turns from what they have to what they don’t have. Ultimately, they think God is withholding something good from them.So they are not thankful for what they have.
That’s what we do today as well. We think about what others have. We spend much of our lives discontented because we do not have as much as the neighbor. What a miserable existence.
David recognized the good:“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!” (Psalm 68:19).
We must recognize the good if we are going to run with gratitude.
Relinquish Perfectionism. Perfectionists are those whose standards are beyond reach or reason. The old proverbs is that “We tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.”Don't demand perfection out of anybody because they can't give it. You see, they don't have to earn their acceptance with God, so why should they have to earn it with you? When you accept other people, not only do you free them, but you're going to free yourself to be all you can be.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).
That acceptance leads us to the next vital component.
Refuse to Compare. Here’s the problem: Comparing is our favorite indoor sport. We compare everything. We compare our size, our shape, our color, how we talk, our intelligence. We compare our families, our kids, our jobs, our talents, and even our lawns.
God warns about the foolishness of comparing yourself to anybody else: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV).
Every time you compare, you’re guilty of either pride or envy. You may find somebody who’s doing a better job than you and you become full of envy. OR, you’re going to find that you’re doing a better job than somebody else, and you become full of pride. Pride or envy is always the result of comparing. And God says it’s foolish. You shouldn’t do it. You are unique. You are one of kind. You are incomparable. Pride or envy is always destructive.
Reject Entitlement. The entitlement mentality is rampant in our culture. Entitlement is basically two attitudes combined: I am exempt from responsibility. I am owed special treatment. It says "I deserve better. I deserve more. I deserve it all.” Have you noticed it doesn't matter how much or how many miracles you've experienced, it's impossible to be thankful when you believe you're entitled to it.
You see, there's an inverse relationship between entitlement and gratitude. If I believe I'm owed something, I won't be thankful because I think I'm entitled. Unexpressed gratitude is ingratitude. When I am entitled, I think people should take care of me andI'm entitled to more than I'm getting. If we aren't careful, this entitlement mentality even invades our relationship with God and others. We begin to feel that we deserve something from God. We think He owes us something!
Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, what we deserve is death and hell. That's a tough pill to swallow, but the Bible is clear about it: “The wages of sin is death,” says the apostle Paul.The good news is that he doesn't give us what we deserve. Instead, in mercy He gives us life! He gives us eternity and freedom and forgiveness and hope and love and truth. God is SO good!
Steve Furtick puts it like this: "When entitlement is high, gratitude is low. When gratitude is high, entitlement is low. Gratitude begins where our sense of entitlement ends.”
“For each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:5). The more things people think they should get, the less grateful they are for the things they do get. The less you feel entitled,the happier you will feel.
Rejoice over others. Show gratitude toward others. Make it a point to tell family and friends how grateful you are for their kindness. Stock up on thank-you notes and use them generously, even for small favors. Thank the folks involved in your daily affairs: the bus driver, the office janitor, the grocery-store clerk. The more you appreciate all these people, the more you'll appreciate the One who put them in your life.
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God”(Philippians 1:3 NLT).
Remember the Giver. How you look at stuff will determine whether you have a heart of gratitude or greed.Greed looks to man to meet the need. Gratitude looks to God to meet the need. That is why when you give something to someone and you get a grateful response, they are looking to God. Greed always looks to a person. That is why the person always gets upset if it is not enough or if you say no.The reason is because they are looking to people as their source, not God. If you continue to look to people to meet your needs, you will always be disappointed. You will never run with gratitude.
By the way, God never provides supernaturally if we look to people. He only provides if we look to Him.
“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today”(Deuteronomy 8:11-18).
Respond with Generosity. “Give an offering to show your thanks to God. Give him what you promised” (Psalm 50:14 NCV). Gratitude has to be expressed, and it has a purpose, too.
“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion . . . your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God”(2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV). What an amazing verse! God makes you rich in every way so you can be generous on every occasion, which will result in thanksgiving to God. This principle is playing out in all of your relationships, either in a negative or positive way. Unexpressed gratitude is ingratitude.
Running with gratitude will change your heart, your life, and your future, and it will impact everyone around you. I AM IN. How about you?