An Attitude of Gratitude
“[I]n everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
There’s an axiom that states that “your attitude determines your altitude.” If you believe this as truth, then you’ll let nothing stop you from ascending higher and higher in the things of God. In the above scripture text, Paul wasn’t teaching that you should thank God for everything that happens, but rather you should thank God in everything—literally, everything.
For example, evil, sickness, poverty, and trouble don’t come from God, so why would you thank God for any of it? But when these circumstances rare their ugly heads, you can still be thankful for God’s presence (Ps. 16:11). Regardless of the circumstance or situation, God will accomplish His good notwithstanding circumstances (Rom. 8:28). It is God’s will, i.e., His determined desire, choice and pleasure according to His purpose, that believers have an attitude of gratitude.
In life you will always have circumstances and stuff that happens. A circumstance is a condition, a fact, or an event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another condition, fact or event (Webster). Some circumstances and “stuff that hits the fan” in life aren’t necessarily good or positive; but what can you do? God says, in everything give thanks! The apostle Paul best demonstrated an attitude of gratitude when he told the Philippians that: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:11-13).
An attitude of gratitude is giving thanks, and thanksgiving is a sacrifice (Psalm 116:17). A sacrifice is an offering that cost you something (2 Sam. 24:24). So, no matter the circumstance, you pay the price by focusing on the goodness of God and giving thanks; notwithstanding, the negative or painful effects of the particular circumstance. Then and only then can you say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). The strength is realized because you exercised your will (volition) to make a conscious choice to be thankful rather than ungrateful. An attitude of gratitude is a choice (Deut. 28:47).
Thanksgiving is the hallmark of faith (Col. 3:15; Phil. 4:6). Ingratitude is a sign of the times (Rom. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:1-2). True faith in God is demonstrated by choosing to be thankful (Luke 17:11-19). The greatest expression of faith is: “thank you”—that’s an attitude of gratitude!