Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.
1 Samuel 12:24 (NKJV)
Our spiritual lives cannot be totally complete if all that is included are the disciplines of prayer, Scripture reading, witnessing, service, and worship. Each of those is critically important in being a disciple of Jesus Christ. You cannot mature in the faith unless they are regularly incorporated into your spiritual journey. However, they have to be connected to a commitment to exercise an additional discipline, and that discipline is gratitude.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others,” wisely stated Marcus Cicero. Henry Ward Beecher paints a powerful image of gratitude when he says, “Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the human soul.”
Gratitude provides an alternative view of things. It compels you to resist letting hurt, pain, confusion, and the slow pace of change dominate your thinking or destroy your emotions. It brings contrary thoughts and emotions into subjection.
Without the spiritual discipline of gratitude, the hypercritical dominance of thought and speech that is pervasive in our culture these days can drown you in a sea of negative musings. When you wake up in the morning feeling sorry for yourself, you go throughout the day in perpetual negativity, looking for the worst rather than the best, feeling that life has taken so much and given so little.
Gratitude reins all that in and says, “Hey, child of God, before you get on that pessimistic train, take another look. Look at all that God is doing. Look at all the positive that is coming out of this. He is working it together for your good. Think about how much you have not lost and how much you still have left.”
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer captures this idea when he says, “In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
How rich is your life today? It depends on your level of gratitude.