Applying the Character Quality of Gratefulness

Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness

4 min

Gratefulness is expressing sincere appreciation to God and to others for the ways that they have benefited my life.

True gratefulness springs from an awareness of our total unworthiness and inadequacy before a holy and just God. If we received what we deserved, we would all be destroyed in an eternal hell. “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Lamentations 3:22).

In light of our condition before God, Jesus instructs us to be “poor in spirit.” This attitude is like that of a beggar along the side of the road hoping for his daily needs to be met and being grateful for anything that anyone does for him.

In the New Testament, the Greek word eucharisteo is translated thank, gave thanks, thanked, givest thanks, , giving thanks, had given thanks, and were thankful. It means “to be grateful, i.e. (act.) to express gratitude.” Expectations of others, based on a false assumption of one’s personal importance, destroy a spirit of gratefulness and instead produce presumption and murmuring.

The Importance of Gratefulness

Gratefulness is the foundation of a believer’s walk with God and of God’s daily will for our lives. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

By giving thanks for all things, including unexpected trials, physical infirmities, people who reproach or persecute us, mundane necessities of life, and distressing situations, we will pass the test of the Holy Spirit and receive the power of genuine love, joy, and peace. It is for this reason that we are to have grateful spirits.

Reasons to Thank God for All Things

It is easy to thank God for the things that obviously benefit us; however, to be grateful for trials and tribulations requires faith and obedience. The following points should provide further understanding for being grateful.

It is easy to thank God for the things that obviously benefit us; however, to be grateful for trials and tribulations requires faith and obedience.

All things come from God’s hand.

It is easy to understand that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17), but what about the attacks of Satan? Job had the wisdom to understand that all his sufferings, ultimately, came from God. After losing everything he had, he worshiped God by saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD [not Satan] hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

Paul had the same discernment when he spoke of the messenger of Satan that came to buffet him. “… There was given to me a thorn in the flesh … . For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:7–9).

God rewarded Job’s gratefulness by giving him back double what he had lost. (See Job 1:2–3 and 42:12–13.) Paul was rewarded with the power of Christ and the glory of eternal riches.

All things are for our good.

The statement is true that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). Even the sufferings that we go through are for our benefit. Paul wrote, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Just as the chastenings of a father are good for his children, God’s disciplines will always benefit us. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).

All things can produce Godly character.

The verse following Romans 8:28 explains how all things work together for good. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). We are not to resent trials or tribulations but should instead welcome them as friends, because they are given to develop one’s character.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2–4).

A right response will produce genuine love.

After being filled with the Spirit, we will be led by the Spirit into a time of testing. If we thank God for and rejoice in every test, we will then experience the power of the Spirit, which begins with love, joy, and peace. This sequence is explained in the fifth chapter of Romans: “… We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3–5).

Love is the greatest power on the face of the earth. Through love, God is able to accomplish in our lives and the lives of others supernatural work that will bring about eternal achievement.

All things, including trials, can bring us closer to God.

When things go well with us, we tend to forget God. The psalmist testified, “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord …” (Psalm 77:2). The psalmist stated, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. … It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. … I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75).

Even when God removes the pressure of a difficult circumstance, we tend to forget Him and neglect to be grateful. When ten lepers were healed, only one returned to thank the Lord. Because of this tendency to forget Him, God will often put us in “impossible” situations so we can experience His deliverance and glorify Him. “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

Personal Evaluation

  • Do you begin each morning by thanking God for a new day?
  • Do you quickly express thanks to other people?
  • Do you rejoice in trials and tribulations?
  • Do you look for benefits in the things that normally cause murmuring?
  • Do you give public recognition to individuals who have helped you?
  • Do you pray for those who have benefited you?
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