Choosing to be grateful is accepted as being good for our physical and emotional health. As a Christian we may also recognise that it is good for our spiritual health, but is gratitude in the Bible? Directly the Bible does not say much about gratitude, but it is a biblical principle. To practise gratitude, to have a spirit of gratitude, to develop the gratitude attitude, are all themes that we can see in Scripture.
Why is gratitude important to God?
Definition: Gratitude – The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. (Oxford dictionary on Lexico.com)
Gratitude is important to God because it flows out of our relationship with Him. It is a reflection of our appreciation of our Heavenly Father and His unfailing love for us. It demonstrates humility and dependence on God.
When we take a moment to pause and reflect that all we have is from God, and all that we are is made complete by being reconciled with Him, our hearts are stirred with thankfulness. Gratitude is the overflow of a thankful heart, expressed through praise and worship to God.
Examples of gratitude in the Bible
In the Psalms
The Psalms are full of gratitude to God expressed through praise and worship. Psalm 136 is a wonderful example of this, as each verse emphasizes God’s everlasting love for us.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever……”Psalm 136:1
The psalm starts with a call to give thanks to God for who He is and then moves into declarations of God’s creative power. This remind us of the infinite majesty and sovereignty of God. Then the psalmist recalls God’s acts on behalf of Israel, how He saved and delivered them from Egypt and gave them victory in the promised land. The psalm ends with thanks to our eternal God whose love for us is everlasting.
There is so much in this psalm that we can identify with, starting with the beauty that we see in the natural world. There is nothing quite like just been outdoors and seeing the wonder of God’s creation and allowing it to whisper something of His nature and character to our spirits. In this digital age our eyes have been opened more than ever before to the awe and wonder of God’s Creation.
Just as the psalmist recalls God’s acts on behalf of His people Israel, we remember His saving act, on our behalf, through His Son. God lavished His love on us, being willing to sacrifice Jesus for us to be reconciled to Him. We have now been brought into the family of God and have the promise of eternal life.
In Jesus’ Life
All four of the gospels report the miracle of the feeding of five thousand men. This happened when Jesus had withdrawn by boat to a solitary place. But the crowds followed Him across the countryside and when Jesus saw the people he had compassion on them. He responded by healing those who were sick.
The daylight was disappearing fast and the disciples wanted to send the people away so that they could find food. But Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” The only food, that the disciples could find, were five small barley loaves and two fish. Such a small amount for such a large crowd of people.
Jesus had already taught his disciples how to pray, and to ask God for our daily needs; “Give us this day our daily bread. He now demonstrates faith in action by taking the small amount of food that had been brought to Him, and looking up to heaven, Jesus gave thanks. He thanked God for His provision, and believing for the miracle that was about to occur, He broke up the food and gave it to the disciples to distribute. All the people ate and were satisfied, and more than that, there were twelve baskets full of left over pieces.
I wonder if we see, in faith, the possibilities for a miracle with our small amount? When we offer to God what we have, with thanks from a grateful heart, He multiplies! And there is more than enough…..
In the Early Church
In his letter to the early church at Colossae, the apostle Paul gives some practical instructions. He focuses on our behaviour and attitude when we have committed our lives to Christ. There’s a list of do not’s, and practices to leave behind as part of God’s family. Then Paul reminds us that we are now chosen, holy and dearly loved by God.
When we are reconciled to God, we have peace in our hearts and a transformation begins. Out of that peace our praise and worship flows to God, from a thankful and grateful heart. This positions us to receive a fresh encounter of His love, so that His love flows outwards to those around us – bringing praise and glory to God.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.Colossians 3:15-16
What is the Spirit of Gratitude in the Bible?
The spirit of gratitude is heartfelt thankfulness to God, in response to His mercy and grace. We can trace the spirit of gratitude throughout Scripture in the lives of those who loved God. It is expressed through thankfulness for His goodness, for deliverance and salvation, for Jesus, for answered prayer, for His daily provision – and so much more.
We all have our own unique way of expressing our gratitude to God – in song, music, dance, worship, creativity, and service. Whatever situation we are in our peace and joy are founded, not in our present circumstances, but, in Christ Jesus our future hope. We are not alone, the Holy Spirit enables us to pray and give thanks in everything. As we develop a spirit of gratitude, trusting in God for today and for tomorrow, our lives become a testimony of His enabling grace.
10 Bible Verses of Gratitude
Thankful for God’s inherent goodness, faithfulness, and provision:
“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures for ever.” Psalm 106:1
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5
“Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain….” Psalm 147:7-8
We are eternally thankful for Jesus Christ our Saviour:
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56
Thankful for the privilege of prayer:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
“but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” Psalm 66:19-20
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Thankful for the promise of Heaven:
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28
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