The Spiritual Discipline of Gratitude

Gratitude as a Discipline

There are many disciplines in the Christian life. When you start to quantify them you usually get into trouble. Of all the disciplines that can be practiced and demonstrated in the Christian life I believe gratitude is the single most important discipline.

  • Gratitude is the byproduct of something we can’t produce ourselves.
  • Gratitude is something we feel when we have been given what we don’t deserve.
  • Gratitude happens when we experience grace and it happens with regularity when we understand grace.
  • Gratitude strikes at the heart of the gospel.

If you’ve ever been to a sporting even in the past 40 years you would have seen the large happy fan of any given team holding up a sign that says John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only son . . .” Gratitude is us understanding what we have been given and receiving it with joy.

The Difference Between Hearing & Saying Thank You

There are few things as lovely as hearing Thank You. Saying Thank You is a very different thing, however.

Thank you requires us to recognize that someone did for us what we could not do on our own. Thank you is a humble admission that we need others. It comes from a place of understanding grace. Saying thank you is more than a simple phrase we teach our kids as children, it’s something we must practice on a daily basis.

German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this about the contributions of others.

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Gratitude is an awakening of our sense of dependence on God and others. The idea of a self-made man is foolish and arrogant. We accomplish very little on our own. Every significant achievement of my life has been a team effort.

Our need for the help of others is actually a means of God’s grace in our lives. The reality of life that we must fight for all we are worth is that we often slip from gratitude into selfish ambition or entitlement both are enemies of a grateful heart.

Continue reading this post at SamLuce.com.

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