Grateful – to Do or to Be?
December 31, 2021 

                I have come across an immense challenge that has taken me beyond any of my known limits but has served to educate me beyond what I expected. 

               My daughter is wanting to know what the Bible has to say about being genuinely grateful in the face of relationships that are not-so-easy to accommodate. I, too, need to know that, and gratitude is becoming a huge issue for me.

                 So, now, here in the 2 a.m. hour of the morning, I have been searching my Bible for the answer to that query. And I have been astonished at my findings! As I said, not what I expected at all. 

                First of all, I discovered that gratitude does not begin as a feeling. It begins with a decision. We choose to give thanks. Romans, chapter 1, spells that out for us -- says God has made plain what He expects of us and that creation itself leaves us without excuse. It says we are to give thanks, not feel thanks. And that if we don’t, our foolish hearts will be darkened and God will give us over to our own evils. Then, in Micah 6:8, we read: “He has showed you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you -- to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. 

                 That was the second thing I saw:  that it all has to start with God, not with our fellow man. We are to find out what God requires and then do it. BUT… He does require us to act kindly to one another -- mercifully. Matthew 25: 40 says whatever way we treat even the lowliest person is exactly what we are doing to God, because as Genesis 1:26 and 27 and 5:3, and 9:6 says, He made man in his own image. And, He says if we have a grievance against our fellow man, we are to go, communicate it to him and reconcile with him (Matt 5: 24,25) and then come back and face God. 1 John tells us God is love and if we don’t love our fellow man, we cannot claim to love God either but are liars. Again -- love is not merely a warm, fuzzy feeling, but a choice we act upon. (1 Corinthians 13 tells us all about that.) 

                  Another thing I was impressed by, was that whenever God’s people went into battle, they placed the musicians and worship team at the head of the ranks of soldiers. I see learning to have healthy attitudes and relationships as a battle we are constantly fighting – and God’s way is to begin with worship. In fact, Ephesians 5:19-21 tells us that we are to address one another with an internal song -- with praise. I never really understood that, but I do now. Almost all of 1 Chronicle 16 tells us to begin daily life with praise and thanksgiving to God. To do it, even if we don’t feel it. To refuse to do that is to slap God in the face with insult. 

                 Romans, chapter 12, tells us exactly how we are to treat each other. We are to be cheerful, show honor to others over ourselves, not repay evil with evil but overcome evil with good, and not to be arrogant. We are to associate with the lowly and meet our enemy’s needs. We cannot possibly live that way without relying on God. We have to solicit His help. We are, Numbers 6: 23-27 says, to pray blessing on one another, ask God to be gracious to each other, and to give one another peace. We are to be a blessing to one another. These are not optional requirements -- they are God’s commands.

                 And furthermore, even if our fellow humans don’t live like that, it must, by the standards of Matthew 5, begin with us. We are to be light to help others see clearly and salt to flavor their lives.

                  These are tall orders, straight from Heaven. But as I studied this out, I realize without our connection to God, without obeying and surrendering to him, a life of gratitude is but a harsh demand.