Let's Get Gratitudinal

Leadership specialist Michael Hyatt carries a rock with him, in his pocket, to remind him to be grateful for whatever is happening in his life. Whenever his hand touches the "gratitude rock," he thanks God for his immediate circumstances ~ whether good or bad. It's a wonderful idea. I have a little figurine on my desk that reminds me to be grateful, too.

I've read a lot of "Attitude of Gratitude" articles, and heard of lot of messages on the same topic, but what turned my heart around about gratitude was a book by my friend, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, titled, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy.

Nancy skipped all of the fluffy maxims about gratitude and went straight to the heart of the matter. In short, Gratitude is a lifestyle that is developed as we appreciate God's grace and goodness, and it's a lifestyle commitment that we must choose.

In a chapter titled "Going Gratitudinal," Nancy began with a story:

"The way the story goes, a Hungarian man went to the local rabbi and complained, 'Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?'

"The rabbi answered without hesitation, 'Take your goat into the room with you.'

"The man looked back at him as if he'd certainly misunderstood. But he hadn't. 'Do as I say,' the rabbi insisted, 'and come back in a week.'

"Seven days later, the man returned looking more distraught than before. 'We can't stand it! he said to the rabbi. 'That goat is filthy!'

"'Then go home and let the goat out,' the rabbi answered. 'Come back in a week.' It was a radiant Hungarian who returned to the rabbi the following week. His whole demeanor spelled relief and refreshment. 'How are you now?' the rabbi asked.

"'Life is beautiful,' the man answered. 'We enjoy every minute now that there's no longer any goat ~ only the nine of us.'" (1)

It's all about attitude, isn't it? We sometimes need a new mindset or perspective ~ an attitudinal change. Nancy coined the phrase "gratitudinal change" and encouraged her readers to live in the fullness of their relationship with God, unhindered by a lack of gratitude.

"... expressing true gratitude involves choices [emphasis mine] as practical as setting your clocks correctly, changing your vacuum bag or locking your doors at night," she wrote. "It is a regular maintenance plan, something that only happens when you do it on purpose, yet it's sure to save you all kinds of trouble down the line." (2)

Then Nancy makes several recommendations for growing gratitudinally, including:

  • Surrender Your Rights to God. (Establish each morning that God has full rights to your life, and trust Him with everything.)
  • Commit to a Set Season of Gratitude. (Focus on becoming a person filled with gratitude and thanksgiving, pray for transformation of an ungrateful heart, and count your blessings.)
  • Take Stock of Your Gratitude Accounts. (Are you saying thank you to the people in your life who bless you? Note: Handwritten thank you notes become keepsakes, blessing the receiver in days to come.)
  • Do It Together, as a Body-Building Exercise. (Take time as a family, Sunday school class, Bible study group, group of co-workers, or church to take time to express thankfulness together ~ "deliberate, targeted, Holy Spirit-directed expressions of gratitude.") (3)
It's also helpful to meditate on scriptures that speak to the need for gratitude and thanksgiving.

Here are a few scriptures that give some reasons for gratitude, plus the example of an apostle, and a comparison between one person who was thankful and others who needed a "gratitudinal adjustment":
  • Psalm 69:30 (Glorify/magnify God with thanksgiving.)
  • Psalm 75:1 (Give thanks for God's works, His "wondrous deeds.")
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Give thanks in all circumstances ~ there's that choice!)
  • Psalm 100:1-5 (Come into God's presence with thanksgiving and praise.)
  • Psalm 136:1-26 (The Psalmist gives thanks for a long list of things!)
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (Paul's example, in context of "giving", especially verses 11-12, 15)
  • Luke 17:15-19 (The gratitude of the healed lepers)
  • Colossians 2:6-7 (As you remember what you have in Christ, and how you have grown, let your self overflow with thankfulness today!)
And don't forget to sing your gratitude. It's more than the traditional Thanksgiving songs (see these Thanksgiving songs at cyberhymnal.com). Nancy's book also has a list of worship-focused "Hymns of Gratitude" such as "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" (my great Redeemer's praise).

When we focus on who God is and what He has done for us, how can we help but express our gratitude?

Gratitude is indeed a choice. It's one great way to enjoy your relationship with God, and certainly a way to bless others. Let's get Gratitudinal ~ not just at Thanksgiving ~ but every day!

(1) Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy (Moody Publishers, 2009), pp. 143-144
(2) Ibid., pp. 145-146
(3) Ibid., adapted from material on pages 146-157

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