Definition: The quality of being able to give thanks in all circumstances, not just when good things happen.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 : “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Luke 7:36-50 NLT—Gratitude for forgiveness shown by perfume poured on Jesus’ feet
(Read the passage slowly a couple of times, taking note of parts that stand out to you personally, and re-read these parts again prayerfully, asking God to speak to you. With whom do you identify in this passage and what message do you sense God has for you? Take time to pray and then re-read the passage, repeating this pattern over and over thoughtfully. Take these thoughts with you throughout the day(s) and look for God at work in you. A more detailed description of this is provided in the introduction of this journal.)
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”
And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Consider the Text
(You don’t have to do all the questions. Pick what resonates with you.)
- With whom do you identify in this passage? The woman, the Pharisee, the man forgiven the lesser debt or the man forgiven the greater debt.
- Would you express gratitude to Jesus if you were at the dinner party? If so, how?
- How would you describe gratitude? …as an attitude? …as an act? …other?
- What is the difference between gratitude for material things and gratitude that is independent of situations and circumstances?
- How does expression of gratitude make you closer to God?
- How does gratitude enable you to be like Christ for other people around you?
- Is there a difference between gratitude and thankfulness? If so, what?
- How is gratitude related to humility? …to worship?
- Sometimes our circumstances do not make us feel gratitude; how can you be thankful in all circumstances?
- When is gratitude costly? In what ways?
Journal My Response
- How does an attitude of gratitude change me?
- What is the evidence of Christ at work in my heart regarding gratitude?
- How is my life changing by the scripture this week?
- How is God transforming my life?
- How does God want me to be different as a result of what I have encountered in God’s word?
- In what ways am I reluctant to change?
- What areas are challenging for me regarding gratitude?
- What underlying issue needs to be addressed in prayer?
- What hinders me from being grateful (e.g. bitterness, envy)?
- What healing does God want to bring into my life regarding thankfulness / gratitude?
- What am I most grateful for?
- Do others consider me a grateful person?
- Identify five people that I will show gratitude for this week. How will they benefit? How will this encourage them in following Jesus?
- Dear God ….
- Book: Crazy Love – Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan (Call No. 248.4)
- Book: One Thousand Gifts – A Dare To Life Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp (Call No. 248.4). This book is a celebration of grace and a recognition of the power of gratitude.
- Book: Choosing Gratitude—Your Journey to Joy, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Call No. 248.4).
- Website: www.onethousandgifts.com
- Song: How Great Is The Love, by Paul Baloche (see video on blog)
- Song: What Can I Do, by Paul Baloche (see video on our blog)
I have heard a story about an older person who, around the dinner table at Thanksgiving dinner, exclaimed, “What do I have to be thankful for?!” This person, surrounded by loving, healthy family members (children and grandchildren), all with roofs over their heads and clothes on their backs and an abundance of food before them on the table, couldn’t find a single thing to be grateful for.
Isn’t that a sad story?
Each day, there are so many gifts that we experience and the thought of missing out on them is heart-breaking. These things to be thankful for are gifts from God. It’s not difficult to get into a groove of simply not noticing, of drifting in and out of each day without taking time to pause and recognise the good things. Days fill up and fly by… we’re busy with positive things to check off our TO DO lists like giving the dog a bath, shopping for groceries, doing homework, going to soccer practice and the like. We all live generally full lives! There’s lots going on each day and we’re all striving to be good sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, students and employees… Who has time to stop and take a breath, right?
But those “day in and day out” days add up, and soon we’re left feeling a little more empty than we did before. The extra sticky bit is that not pausing to be thankful for the many gifts we receive each day means it’s even easier to feel totally forsaken when the going gets tough. Then more than ever we cry out, “Now, what do I have to be thankful for?!”.
Ephesians 5:19a-20 reads, “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Isn’t that beautiful? We should be giving thanks to God for everything. We have the love of an awesome and grace-filled God whose forgiveness knows no bounds. Psalm 118:1 illustrates this: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Now that’s something to be thankful for!
Start a Family Gratitude Wall: Some ideas include the door to your fridge, a bulletin board, a chalkboard or whiteboard, or simply a large piece of paper or bristol board. Write “warm fuzzies” to one another. Write about someone who opened a door for you or give you a pen when you needed one. Note the way the sunshine felt on your face. Make each note a prayer, thanking our Heavenly Father.
Gratitude Grab Bag (for families with younger children): Make up cards, some that say “I’m thankful for…” and others that have a picture on them (no words) of things children may be thankful for. Each family member takes a turn reaching into the bag and pulling out a card. If the card says “I’m thankful for…” the person should express something or someone they are thankful for (parents, teachers, pet, favorite food, etc.). If the card has a picture on it, express why we should be thankful for the item pictured (food, clothes, trees, grass, stores, cars, etc.).
Reminder Sign: If your family loves to be creative, work together to make a sign that reads “Always Be Grateful,” “Count Your Blessings,” or “There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for!” to put up in your home as a constant reminder. If possible, have everyone in your family be involved in the project so everyone will take ownership of it.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ”. As a family, talk about some times in your lives that haven’t been easy. For each difficult time, talk about the things you had to be thankful for despite the rough patch.
This Week’s Family Challenge: Count Your Blessings
Before bed each night, gather together and take some time to reflect on the day that just passed. Make a collective list of things you have been thankful for and thank God for them. Try to have each person work their way up to listing at least 2-3 things (big or small) each day. Doing this each night for the rest of INCREASE will hopefully it will become a habit in the life of your family, and a habit that will continue throughout the lives of you and your children.