How To Live With Gratitude

Matt Mylin   -  

Andy Stanley writes, “Unexpressed gratitude is experienced as ingratitude.”

For most of my life, I have not been good at writing thank-you notes in a timely manner. It’s not because I’m not thankful but because I don’t prioritize it. Saying thank you doesn’t feel urgent. It’s not like paying a bill where there’s a consequence if you forget to pay it.

But there is a consequence. My lack of gratitude toward someone is experienced as ingratitude.

What if the only way a person knew we appreciated them was from what we expressed to them?

What if the only way God knew that we were thankful to him was from what we expressed to him? Watch the latest message on how to faithfully serve, follow, and trust God.

What would the ratio be if someone saw the balance of our prayers of gratitude versus our prayers of requests?

How can we develop the habit of expressing gratitude to God and others?

In part 2 of the series: How to Build a Life of Worship, let’s look at the apostle Paul’s instructions on how to live with gratitude. He writes, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Let’s dig into each one.

1) Choose joy.

Joy is a choice. You don’t have to be a follower of Jesus for long to know that we will experience times when this will be tested. To emphasize this point, James instructs followers of Jesus to “Count it an opportunity for great joy whenever troubles come your way” (James 1:2). 

Recently, the air conditioning unit in our home stopped working and needed to be replaced. The bill was over $6,000. I didn’t view this as an attack from the devil because it was old and needed to be replaced. But I also didn’t view this as an opportunity for great joy. Instead, it was annoying. However, it was part of those “troubles that come your way.” 

Choosing joy while we endure troubles in this world can only come from a source that is not of this world. In the presence of God is fullness of joy.

2) Pray with persistence.

Be unceasing in prayer. Again, this will be tested. It’s easy for me to pray about something urgent. But when the urgency is over, I can move on.

Praying with persistence is more than having the willpower not to give up. Instead, it’s praying about everyone on all occasions. Pray in the good times and the bad times. Thank God for his mercies that are new every morning. Give God praise on the mountaintops and in the valleys.

Praying with persistence is not telling God how big your problems are; it’s telling your problems how big your God is.

3) Be thankful in all circumstances, not for all circumstances.

We don’t have to thank God for the troubles that come our way, but we can certainly thank God while we go through them. Here are some important reasons to give thanks to God.

I love these words of Isaiah, who prophesied God speaking to his people:

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. You will not drown. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

The key word is “through.” God’s Word assures you that when you go through something, you will get to the other side. He calls you his own.

Take a moment to give thanks for how God is working in your life.

Remember that he will be with you through it all.