Let me ask you a question. Do you have difficulty with bitterness, selfishness, self pity, negativism, or pride? An attitude of gratitude can change those things and literally transform your life.
There are four levels of living. People in the lowest level constantly complain. These folks are always griping and complaining. Rather than being humbly grateful, they're grumbly hateful.
The second level is just a tad higher. These are not people who are constantly complaining; they just never give thanks for anything. They take things for granted. The third level are those who thank God for the obvious blessings, when things are going good and everything is fine.
But the fourth level, the highest level, are those who give thanks always for all things. This is the attitude that will change your life.
Let me give you five principles that will help you achieve the highest level.
Anything good that you have has come from God. You didn't get it by luck, ingenuity, hard work, wit, or wisdom. It is proper to thank God for it.
Our Gratitude Is to Be Perpetual
You're not just simply to be thankful one day a year. One day is not long enough to thank God for all that He's given you. His blessings come daily. Psalm 68:19 says, "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loadeth us with benefits...." Every day God has brand-new blessings for you, and every day ought to find you thanking God. Every prayer that you pray ought to be salted with thanks.
• Spiritual things — If you didn't have anything else but Jesus, you would have enough to praise God for all eternity.
Our Gratitude Is to Be Pervasive
In everything give thanks. Not in some things, but in all things. Every thing, every area of life is to be a the subject of thanksgiving. There's so much to be thankful for.
• Simple things — You should be thankful for your families, health, food, and even a glass of water. Thank God for the simple things.
• Sorrowful things — You can even be thankful for the heartaches, the pains, and the sufferings. Romans 8:28 says, "...All things work together for good...." That is, the thing itself is not good, but it is God Who is working all things together for good.
Do you want to live on the highest level of life? Cultivate the attitude of gratitude always and in all things. I don't care how bad, difficult, dark, or mysterious things get; take the ultimate step of faith and say, "God, You're greater than this, and I thank You." You say, "Well, I don't feel like thanking Him." Don't thank Him by feeling; thank Him by faith. You're not told to feel thankful but to be thankful. Nothing shows your faith in the absolute sovereignty of God more than just simply thanking God in every situation.
Our Gratitude Will Be Pleasurable
Thankful people are happy people. "Well," you say, "if I had something to be thankful for, I'd be happy." You have missed the point! You do have something to be thankful for. You have life. You have Christ. You may say, "But my circumstance are not good." The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote this, yet he was rejoicing in the Lord. Gratefulness turned his prison to a palace, but ungratefulness can turn your palace to a prison. I'm telling you, the attitude of gratitude will change your life.
Our Gratitude Is Possible
Before we are told to give thanks in verse twenty, verse eighteen says, "...Be filled with the Spirit." Living with gratitude is not a human way to live, not a natural way to live — it's supernatural. And this kind of thankfulness only comes out of a vital relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the substance of it, the source of it, and the strength of it. We are to be filled with the Spirit, and we are to be giving thanks. And that's the only way we can do it.
Whether you're in a prison, as Paul was, or enjoying your Thanksgiving Day dinner, you can praise God. I'm telling you it will change your life. Bitterness, fear, self pity, ungratefulness, and negativism will go out of your life if you will practice the grace of gratitude. It's possible when you let the Holy Spirit fill you.