In our “you deserve it” culture, we’re tempted to think that we deserve all kinds of accolades, luxuries, and VIP treatment just for being our fabulous selves. Americans seem especially prone to take credit for their own success, with our pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps ideals.
When we’re puffed up with feelings of pride and inflated self worth, we make ourselves unlikely candidates to offer heartfelt thanksgiving to our Creator. Of course, the opposite of pride is humility, and if we’re going to be thankful, that’s exactly where we need to start.
Pride isn’t the Christian way; it is the world’s. I John 2:16 lists it with two other main temptations that the world offers. I’m pretty sure that the self-esteem movement isn’t helping squelch that any, either. Let’s face it: We like to think we’re special and that we’re self-made success stories, but we’re not.
I Corinthians 4:7 encourages us to be honest about where we’ve received any abilities or superiority we have. Any earthly strength or success we have should be cause to praise our Creator — not ourselves (Psalm 139:14). All the good gifts we have were given to us from our loving and gracious Heavenly Father (James 1:17). If we don’t acknowledge that, though, we’ll see no reason to give thanks to Him.
Along with an overdose of arrogance, our world is good at convincing us that if we’re receiving positive vibes or any assortment of blessings, it’s because we’ve somehow earned it. “Good Karma” is a phrase commonly used, but it’s directly opposed to biblical truth.
Only when we realize that we stand in need of grace will we truly appreciate what we’ve been given. Part of that is realizing that we’re sinners who deserve punishment for our sin (Rom. 3:23, 6:23a). We all have for which we need forgiveness, but if we don’t realize that, we won’t love or appreciate our Savior as we should (Luke 7:47).
According to Ann Voskamp, author of the bestselling book One Thousand Gifts, ”Joy is a function of gratitude — and gratitude is a function of perspective.” The act of actually writing something down has been proven to be more impactful than merely rehearsing it in your mind, so it’s no surprise that according to various studies, simply recording the gifts for which you’re thankful can increase your happiness, improve your relationships, and help you make progress toward personal goals.
Particularly during the month of November, we can get creative about displaying our lists as part of our Thanksgiving décor. Kid-friendly options like this one or these are excellent ways to help our kids be thankful to the Lord.
Of course, it delights the heart of our Creator when we give Him credit for what He has done and when we open our mouths to publicly praise and thank Him. Psalm 100:4 “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”
by Tammy Wagner
Tammy lives in western Pennsylvania and is a pastor’s wife and mother of three young children.
Image credits: Top by sharpshutter22/Fotolia; Second by Gino Santa Maria/Fotolia; Third by Wavebreak Media LTD/Fotolia; Bottom by Masson/Fotolia.