by Katie Julius
This time of year, I have the lyrics of Don Moen running through my head on repeat.
Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say, “I am strong.”
Let the poor say, “I am rich.”
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
If you grew up in the church in the 80’s and 90’s, it’s likely these lyrics are familiar to you, too. You may have even sung them!. As familiar as these two short stanzas may be and as often as they play in my head during this season of thankfulness, I have to admit that I’m not really all that great about living it out.
SHOWING THANKS TO OTHERS
Sure, I express my gratitude. I say thank you to people who are helpful. I thank God for the things He has given to me and my family. The “give thanks” part is a fairly easy thing. It’s that second part of the first line that really gets me … ”with a grateful heart.”
When I am saying thanks, is it just an automatic response? Or am I truly grateful? I think of simple situations where someone holds open a door, the cashier at the store rings up my order, or a polite driver lets me turn in front of them in a long line of cars. I say, “thank you” (or give a wave), but am I actually doing so with a grateful heart?
According to Dictionary.com, grateful means, “warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received.” It’s that “deeply” part that gets me. Sure, it’s the cashier’s job and she’s earning money, but she’s also giving up time with her family to serve the general public (which, if you’ve ever been in a job that requires customer service, you know how challenging that could be). How many people have actually thanked her as they walked away with their groceries today? How much better of a world would we live in if we took a few extra seconds to truly appreciate and show our gratitude for those who are serving us (even if they’re getting paid to do so).
Our children are growing up in an increasingly selfish society. It’s all about me and what I can do to get ahead. I challenge you (and me) to look for more opportunities to show our genuine gratitude to others, even in the small, mundane things. Model it for your children. Encourage your children to show their thankfulness. I can tell you that in the last, almost 10 years, of attending children’s birthday parties, we have received just a small handful of thank you notes (either digitally or in the mail). I have to admit that we haven’t usually sent them either. But it’s important, especially in this world of selfishness and instant gratification.
THANKS TO GOD
While I’ve focused on being thankful to others so far, if you know the song I opened this article with, you know that it’s a worship song to God. Yes, it can be a reminder about being thankful to others as I’ve illustrated above, but how much greater are the things God has done for us, even in seemingly horrible situations? If we are pretty good about showing our gratitude to others, are we the same with God?
Do you give thanks to Him every morning when you wake up? You’re alive. It’s another day you have to enjoy all the things He has provided for you – family, friends, opportunities, etc.
Being thankful to God is so much more than just saying thank you in prayer. Being thankful requires action. So many verses in the Bible that talk about being thankful have actions involved – singing (Ps. 7:17), telling (Ps. 9:1), praise (Ps. 35:8), shout (Ps. 95:1), enter His gates (Ps. 100:4), make music (Eph. 5:19), pray (Phil. 4:6), be generous (2 Cor. 9:11), and I could go on.
How are you actively showing Him that you are thankful? Is thanks a verb in your life?