By The Rev. Daniel P. Richards
Giving thanks is primary, a first act. It is so basic that it determines everything else in our lives, our personalities, our relationships to God, others, even ourselves.
When someone is shaped by a primary gratitude, that is they are given to realizing that whatever comes their way is a gift and deserving of thanks, their relationship to God is easier and more open, more likely to include repentance and also generosity because there is recognition of God’s grace and their own need and therefore other’s needs.
Dry, huh? Look, when you make a practice of giving thanks for everything, you begin to see how you relate to God and others more honestly. There are things you should not give thanks for, granted, but a basic gratitude makes it more likely that you will experience your life more positively.
But it is a discipline. It takes practice. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15 – 17
Learning not just to give thanks when the thought strikes, but to make thanksgiving primary has been a long practice for me. It is not the giving thanks, but rather the realizing that I should be thankful in the first place that has been hard. I just accept things coming the way they come and move on. But when I stop and realize (count my many blessings, count them one by one) I am profoundly changed.
I am put in right relationship with God. I am deeply grateful to others, and I find myself much more likely to offer gifts to others in simple gratitude. It takes that first work of paying attention. It is a discipline of grace. Give thanks. It changes everything.
From Growing into Grace: Week 2, a Worship & Prayer Insert for 2 November 2014