Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. |1 Thessalonians 5:16-18|
One of the most powerful mindset changes I’ve ever made was when I decided to live with gratitude and thank God for blessings rather than complain and wish I was someone else.
For years I went through life feeling like I was lacking and like I deserved more than I had. I looked at others and felt so inadequate, and I often engaged in private pity parties. I wish my life was full like other people’s seem to be. I wish I had more. I wish I didn’t lack so much.
Then something changed. I started to think about other people, and I realized how blessed I was. I became aware of those in need who have so much less than me, and I began to feel deeply convicted about my spoiled attitude. I felt that it was shameful to be ungrateful when I’ve been blessed with so much.
In America, we tend to measure our lives by the standards of the most fortunate people we know of, rather than in comparison to the whole world. Think about it. If you live in a decent house and never have to go without food and have access to a good education, you’re more fortunate than the majority of people in the world. Just let that sink in. Are people in third world countries just numbers to you? Those people have their own lives and hopes and dreams, and they would probably love to be in your position right now.
One of the main things that cultivates an attitude of thankfulness is giving. When we become aware of those who have less than us, we become so grateful to God for all that He has blessed us with that we just want to give those blessings back to Him by sharing with those in need. When you really have a heart for the least of these, you begin to think differently, and all you want is to make a difference in the lives of others rather than gain more for yourself.
Sometimes I look around my room which is full of nice things I don’t absolutely need, and I feel guilty for ever complaining when there are people who don’t even have a house to go home to after a long day. We shouldn’t compare our lives to the most wealthy people we know of.
We should think of how we can improve the lives of those who have less than us rather than wish that we had more. There are so many hurting people in the world who have less than you, and we’ll never help them if we’re only thinking of how to gain more for ourselves.
Why is it that poor people in third world countries often look more joyful than people in the west? I think it’s because our consumerist culture tells us we never have enough even when we have an abundance.
You have to have the new iPhone, even though the one you have right now is fine. You have to buy more shoes, because the ten pairs you have right now aren’t enough. You have to have a nicer car even though the one you have right now runs just fine. And you have to have an impressive, high-paying job even though you could easily survive on a below average income if you’re sensible with your money.
But doesn’t it seem despicable to be so ungrateful for so much? When there are people who are out on the streets or who don’t even know where their next meal is coming from, we shamelessly complain that we don’t have certain privileges or luxuries. We’re always grabbing for more.
I used to spend hours online adding items to my wishlist, wishing I was rich so that I could buy whatever I wanted. I used to wish my family had more money so that we would never have to worry about finances and could buy things without hesitation. But then I realized how contrary this mindset is to how God’s word tells us to live as believers.
The Bible doesn’t teach us to speak material things into existence so that we can gratify our shallow desires (no matter what the prosperity gospel may tell you), but it encourages us to become content with what we have and make Jesus the focus of our lives.
When I became aware of all the ways in which God has blessed me and became content with what I have, I began to feel so much more joyful about my life. I stopped wanting more and just felt thankful to God for all He’s given me. It’s amazing how gratitude can change your whole perspective.
One of the most relentless thieves of your contentment is ingratitude and comparison. If you’re only ever focusing on what you’re lacking, you’ll never see how truly blessed you are, and you’ll never make the most of the unique life you’ve been given. Although we can’t always change our situation, we can change the way we see our lives. Perspective is everything, especially when it comes to gratitude.
Now when I see the rust on my old 1997 Honda, I laugh to myself rather than wish I had a nice car like the rich kids at my college. Because at least I have a reliable car, and it gets me where I need to go.
When things go wrong in my old house, I get over it and feel grateful that I have a big house for things to go wrong in.
When I catch myself complaining about money, I feel grateful that I’m able to work and earn money, and I feel thankful that I haven’t been spoiled because that means I’ve learnt to manage money well.
We have to continually remind ourselves of all the blessings in our lives and be sure to thank God for them. This gratitude should not only apply to our thoughts about material possessions, but also our relationship with God. We should never stop being grateful to Jesus for the cross, and we should never become indifferent about the salvation we have in Him and the freedom He’s given us.
We should be profoundly grateful for everything God does for us, even the seemingly small things. We should be thankful just to know Him, because we’re dead without Him. How can we ever be ungrateful for the life He’s given us?
So if you feel ungrateful and can’t stop comparing your life to the lives of those who seem to be more fortunate than you, I ask you to take a look at your life and be grateful. You may be in a terrible place and feel completely discouraged, but with Jesus there is always something to be grateful for.
I assure you that once you start looking at life through a lens of gratitude, you will become more content and will begin to feel more love and compassion for those who have less than you. If you take moments to be grateful, these moments will eventually turn into your attitude, and your attitude will then saturate your whole life.
Bible verses about gratitude:
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. |Ephesians 5:19-20|
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 all this through Him who gives me strength. |Philippians 4:11-13|
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. |Colossians 2:6-7|
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. |Colossians 3:15-17|
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. |1 Timothy 6:6-8|
Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” |Hebrews 12:28-29|
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have. |Hebrews 13:5|