Extravagantly thankful?

large_be-grateful-titleExtravagantly?

Why would I associate this word with anything? We mostly use extravagant in negative ways.

  • extravagant claims -exceeding the limits of reason or necessity.
  • extravagant praiselacking in moderation, balance, and restraint.
  • extravagant displayexcessively elaborate.
  • extravagant with moneyspending much more than necessary.
  • extravagant priceextremely or unreasonably high in price.

Should we then be moderately thankful? Occasionally thankful? No.

Extravagant is a much better word (as I’ll demonstrate in a moment). First, however, consider some references to extravagant descriptions of the work of God.

Extravagant descriptions God’s work

  • I John 3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us”
  • Romans 2:4 – “the riches of his kindness”
  • I Timothy 1:14 – “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly
  • I Timothy 1:16 – I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience
  • Titus 3:5-6 – “the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior”
  • James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all…”

Three examples of the call to extravagant gratitude

Consider the way three associations with thankfulness are made in relation to three important themes.

  1. The will of God – “In everythinggive thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18).
  2. The Spirit-filled life – “…be filled with the Spirit … alwaysgiving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18, 20).
  3. The life of love “Love nevergives up, neverloses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (I Corinthians 13:7, NLT).

G. K. Chesterton  – expressed this in in his typical lively way.

  • “You say grace before meals…. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
  • “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
  • Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.”

Essential to Christian character

  • “Cultivating a grateful heart is not just an add-on nicety, a civil tip of the hat to God as we steamroll through our day. A posture of purposeful, perpetual thanks to God is absolutely central to Christian character” (Ellen Vaughn).

Thankfulness or Gratitude (What is it?)

Thankfulness/gratitude is a feeling of appreciation to someone for what he or she has done to help you. Antonyms Ingratitude, Thanklessness, Unappreciative, Ungrateful

Not indebtedness –  a response of obligation. Some people struggle with gratitude because they feel they owe a debt to those who do good for them. So cultures take this outlook. Chinese culture is an example.

  • Indebtedness involves anxiety about paying back the good done. It could motivate a person to avoid the one who helped him.
  • Gratitude motivates a person to do good for others and encourages good relationships.

Gratitude and health 

The attitude and practicing of Gratitude plays a significant role in personal well-being. Relatively recently the field of psychology (which focused mainly on distressing matters) investigated the role of gratitude and concluded that it is a significant factor of personal well-being. It’s good for you to be grateful.

For example – Gratitude and joy grow or diminish together. It’s good to remember that gratitude rhymes with attitude. So much of the quality of life has to do with our attitude toward it.

Grumblers and faultfinders be warned…

Strong (and perhaps extravagant) words of warning are issued against the opposite of gratitude – grumbling. It would be a sad testament to our character (or to the character of our families, small groups and churches) if the antonyms of gratitude described us – ungrateful, Thankless, Unappreciative.

  1. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14-15, NLT)
  2. “These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 16).

Grumblers visited by the angel of death

It’s also significant to see unthankfulness associated with the sins of idolatry, sexual immorality and testing Christ. Using the children of God in the Old Testament as an example for us, the Apostle Paul wrote,

  • I Corinthians 10:6-10 “God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. … we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites.  And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death.”

The parent of all virtues?

An ancient philosopher suggested that “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” Is this true? How do we trace a line from other virtues back to gratitude? Look at it from another viewpoint.

Unthankfulness – The General in command 

Many years ago, I heard someone suggest that if sin were an army, the general in command would be unthankfulness. It is rather interesting that the description of the spiral of life away from God begins with the absence of honoring God as God in the unthankfulness of man toward God.

  • Romans 1:19- 21“… what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Quiz time

In university classes professors now pause every seven minutes (the new length of attention span) to quiz students on what they were just taught.

True of False?

  1. Those who walk in God’s will are moderately grateful.
  2. Grouchy people are a good witness for a gospel of grace.
  3. Gratitude should not be associated with indebtedness.
  4. Mature people are slow to give thanks and quick to complain.
  5. Gratitude is one of the best remedies for discouragement.
  6. Small doses of gratitude will not lift us out of despondency.
  7. Gratitude and joy grow or diminish together.
  8. God’s will is a perpetual dialogue of gratitude with God and others.
  9. A constant grumbler should never say he follows Christ.
  10. God calls his people to be extravagantly grateful.
  11. Ungrateful leads to mediocrity and misery.
  12. Gratitude and personal well-being are closely associated.

Question to think about…

What if God made you live today on only those things you thanked Him for yesterday?

Where’s my tooth brush? Oh, I forgot to thank God for it yesterday. How did Chesterton put it?

  • Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.”

We all have bad days

I realize that we all have bad days that make extravagant gratitude feel unrealistic. When life turns on us in ways that make it feel difficult to overflow with gratitude, draw near to and pour your heart out to…

  • “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (II Corinthians 1:3-4).
  • God’s throne of grace , “so that you may receive mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

The way out of a tunnel of sadness is to engage in the worship of gratitude.

C. S. Lewis offers wise counsel

  • We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good,’ because it is good, if ‘bad’ because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

Questions for searching our hearts

  1. Do you tend to lean toward the downward spiral of negativity?
  2. Do you tend to focus on what’s wrong in life?
  3. Do you focus more on what you don’t have than being grateful for what you have?

If you had to answer yes to these questions, it’s a spiritual warning sign calling you to deep repentance.

Prayer – “God, please help me to be an extravagantly grateful Person.”

Praise – I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1). “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

Assignment

Finish this sentence – “I am grateful for ……” When you gather around the table invite each person to finish this sentence. This will help everyone cultivated an attitude of gratitude.

Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Character, Christian life, Christianity, Complaining, Psychology, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving, True Christianity?, Wisdom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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