Monday, February 25, 2013

Gratitude - and being Worshipful

     I write a minimum of three thank-you notes every day.  That’s not many, only takes 4 or 5 minutes.  But in a year that’s more than a thousand, and as I’ve been doing this for 20 years, that’s a lot of thank you notes.

   What is striking as I think about it is how many people I have forgotten to thank, and for so many kindnesses and favors.  Superficially, a thank you note is about good manners – but I’m only mildly interested in etiquette.  I want people to know I appreciate them, that I’m honored by them.

   More importantly, I want to be a grateful person.  Like everybody else, I’m tempted toward a sense of entitlement.  I’m drawn toward what I think I deserve.  I easily lurch into a sense of self-sufficiency.  But these moods are not of God – and they are not even the truth about me or anybody else.  We are all great debtors.  On my own I’d be nobody, except one to be pitied.  The more I realize how all the good in my life is a gift, and the more I express thanks for the wonders in my life, the richer I am, the more spiritually settled I become.

   The Bible speaks constantly of gratitude:  “I do not cease to give thanks for you” (Ephesians 1:16).  “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (Psalm 107:1).  You can’t thumb through many pages without reading expressions of thanks.

   Disciplined practice of gratitude makes us grateful people, and deepens our gratitude to God – and even teaches us how to ask God for things:  “With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).  Not “Ask, then give thanks if you get what you wanted,” but “With thanks, ask.” 

   Gratitude is contagious.  If someone thanks me, I’m inclined to thank somebody else – so more people are encouraged, and a whole church, a whole community might become a grateful, encouraging place.

   If you want to know God, and to be worshipful, and even a nobler, more contented person, try this praxis:  write a thank you note or two, or four or seven, each day.