Having an Attitude of Thanksgiving

Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV)
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

In our imperfect lives it is so easy to find something to complain about, something that we wish we had but do not, taking for granted the things the Lord has blessed us with.

If we but stand still for a moment and think, there is often something or even many things that we should be thankful for. Shelter, food, transportation, loved ones, friends, health, and intact mental faculties are among the things many of us are blessed with and often take for granted. Adopting and developing an attitude of praise and thanksgiving to God for these and His many other blessings can help us to develop the qualities of faith, patience, and perseverance in our characters. This is pleasing to God and helps us to be able to receive and keep the peace and rest He offers to us.

Praising and giving thanks to God is not just to please Him, but is for our benefit as well. It takes the focus away from ourselves and places it on Christ and His love and goodness towards us. It helps us to be content no matter what situation we may find ourselves in.

Some of you may know of the television cartoon show called "The Simpsons." Humor aside, those of you who know some of the regular characters in this show will know of a certain Ned Flanders, who is Homer Simpson's very religious, very Christian neighbor. While the show often sadly pokes fun at his and his family's piety, there was one episode that caught my attention. It was the one where Mr. Flanders started a business that sold various items made for left-handed people. He put all his money and energy into his business only to see it fail miserably. As a result, the Flanders family, who was once rich in the good things of life, lost nearly all of their material goods and their home. All that was left to them was their car. And the family planned to live in their car until they could hopefully find lodging with a relative in another city. What I found touching in this episode, and what I think we all could learn from, was that in spite of this calamity, the Flanders family still sang praises to God and thanked Him for what they had. In spite of their sadness at losing nearly everything, they had the courage and faith in God to face the unknown, because like the apostle Paul they learned to be content in whatever circumstances they found themselves in (Philippians 4:11-12).

We can all learn, by God's grace and the inner working of the Holy Spirit, to have this attitude. We have no idea in life when things will go well or take a turn for the worse. But we have the promise that God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). For this we can always be grateful. An attitude of praise and thanksgiving keeps us mindful that all we have and receive comes by God's blessing, and it gives us the strength to face any time of lack or adversity. It also helps us to be more aware of those undergoing hard times and encourage us to reach out by faith with a helping hand (James 2:14-18).

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