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.
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.
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 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.