We celebrate Thanksgiving this coming weekend. I hope you will be thankful for more than the turkey and stuffing you’ll enjoy.
An attitude of gratitude is at the very heart of living a Spirit-controlled life. What evidence might we expect of an individual living a Spirit-filled life? Grateful or grace-filled believers are Spirit-filled believers. If we look for the litmus test to help recognize whether a believer is living the victorious Christian life, we need go no further than discover if they exude a spirit of thanksgiving. An attitude of gratitude tips off the true state of our spiritual health. The New Testament links this spirit of thanksgiving with living a consistent Christ-like life. Is this true of the church today?
Paul writes: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be….ungrateful.” (2 Timothy 3:1-2) Does your church model the spirit of the age, or the spirit of Christ? If we are to experience daily victory over sin, the Bible teaches that the spirit of gratitude is pivotal to being consistently victorious. The Apostle Paul connects triumph with thanksgiving, saying in I Corinthians 15:57: “How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Did you catch that? Paul links gratitude to victory. Paul does the same thing in 2 Corinthians 2:14, saying: “But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along in Christ’s triumphal procession.” Victory and triumph are linked to nurturing a spirit of gratitude. Show me a devoted follower of Christ experiencing victory, and I promise you, you’ll discover a life permeated with a thankful spirit.
Gratitude is one of the greatest evidences that God is present and at work in the life of a believer. In a world where there are so many reasons to be ungrateful, so many reasons to complain, so many excuses to be critical, and so many ways to be cynical, the Spirit of God invites us on another path: The way of thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, the doctrine of gratitude is too often relegated to the backburner of our lives, rather than being a cardinal mark, or badge, of our daily Christian walk. If the Holy Spirit is truly in control of our lives as Fellowship Baptists, then the spirit of gratitude will be a natural and normal part of our everyday lives, and that will change everything: How we treat our friends, our spouse, our environment; how we praise in our worship gatherings; how we pray or spend our money. Everything changes, for the good.
A preacher once said, “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” It’s a vaccine in that gratitude prevents the invasion of a critical spirit. It is an antitoxin in that it prevents the effects of poisonous-like cynicism. And it is an antiseptic, for gratitude can soothe and heal a troubled spirit.
Let’s be thankful, for God’s glory and our benefit.