Cultivating A Culture Of Gratitude

(Originally posted 2-23-17)

Do you ever have those days where you feel under-appreciated? Those days that wherever you are (home, school, or work) it seems no one really cares what you are contributing? And often a pattern develops where days turn into weeks or even months and you start asking yourself, “Why am I doing this…what does it really matter anyway?”
 
I think we all have these moments. We have all been there. If there is a common bond that runs through the human experience, it is that everyone desires a life of true worth and meaning. And there are times when we just don’t feel it.
 
In regards to all of this, I have started to realize we are becoming a culture that cares less and less about people and their value: the God-given value of the individual. I believe this is revealed most glaringly in our lack of thankfulness; of having a heart of gratitude.
 
I see everyday where my own selfishness and lack of respect for others causes gratitude to fall off the radar. I am quick to criticize and say “why’d they do it that way?” instead of encouraging and offering support. In the busyness of life, I can be short at the drive-thru waiting for the employee to hurry up with my order. Within my own family (where it hits home most), I can be the Dad losing it all too quickly at my boys without getting down at their level and being their biggest fan.
 
I can see my own heart is revealed by my actions.  Maybe you can identify.If you’ve read this blog a time or two, you’ve probably seen a theme start to develop. I know I’ve seen it develop, even unintentionally. It’s the theme that as Christians, we need to set the standard. We look at how the world operates and instead of buying in or bemoaning it, we set in motion lives of change and radical behavior in Christ. We raise the bar and level of behavior so that an unbelieving world cannot help but notice and wonder “what makes him or her tick?”
 
A lack of gratitude within us is nothing new. Jesus saw this when He healed 10 lepers. Only one came back to thank Him. Just one. Remember the story?
 
While traveling to Jerusalem, He passed between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, 10 men with serious skin diseases met Him. They stood at a distance and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
 
When He saw them, He told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And while they were going, they were healed.
 
But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. He fell facedown at His feet, thanking Him. And he was a Samaritan.
 
Then Jesus said, “Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine? Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has made you well.” Matthew 17:11-19
 
Without going much further into the story, we see at face value Jesus honors those who are thankful. The Samaritan (the foreigner, the outsider), understood giving thanks was important. The other nine, Jews we assume, did not. Those who should’ve got it missed it and the one who was least expected to be grateful, returned.
 
As I read the passage, it’s as if God is speaking to me saying “Why should gratitude mark those who are outside of the church? It must be a mark of My people.”
 
What if as Christians, we were the best tippers?
What if no matter how long the wait, we treated that employee at the drive-thru with respect and decency?
What if we stopped using our social media platform to post criticisms and started using it to love on people?
I can tell you this whole post does indeed “hit home.” This topic wells up tears in my eyes even as I type as I realize I have failed people. Truly decent people who have needed to see Christ in me have seen anything but. And for that, I am truly sorry before my God and before those I have hurt. But I also see hope for me…and for you if you are where I’m at.
 
God gives us the ability to extend to others the same grace He has given to us. What we have received from Him, we merely pass on to others. We don’t store it up or hoard it for ourselves. We pass it along and become that blessing to someone else. We become that one person in someone’s day who does appreciate, who does say thank you.
 
My hope and prayer for you is that as we journey together, we are making inroads with the people we encounter. Culture does not change over night. The ingrained behaviors we see are not immediately reversed. But the individual person, living out Christ daily, can have an impact with ripple effects far beyond this life…even to eternity.
 
Let’s be thankful today and cultivate a culture of gratitude.
 
God bless.
 
Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
 
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