Approaching a season often dedicated to time spent reflecting on gratitude, my heart bristled just a millisecond; enough to signal a need for contemplation. Startled by even a brief lapse into ingratitude, I began a genuine heart search for the cause. My initial search kept reverberating one phrase, “the grace of gratitude”.
A familiar phrase, I wrote on exploring the grace of gratitude previously from the perspective of gratitude as a “grace”, or spiritual discipline for cultivation in the Christian life.
Revisiting the concept, however, led me in an unexpected direction. Rather than helping me get back on track with a derailed gratitude practice, it revealed a serious flaw. More than lapsing into a state of general dissatisfaction, my problem centered on a poor grasp of Grace.
A grateful heart evidences a clear understanding of grace; for grace never leaves you in a state of ingratitude.
Even the slightest feelings of discontent echo a heart attitude focused on more; a perception of lack, as if God’s blessings somehow fall short.
when gratitude and grace meet
Most people define gratitude as the offering of thanksgiving for something received, an action in response to a kindness. But true gratitude is a feeling, not an action coerced or dutifully performed.
Rooted in delight, gratitude flows from a heart full of joy in receiving a gift or kindness. But true gratitude stems from more than delighting in receiving something which pleased you.
Sadly, I remember many times when a gift or service delighted me more than the person who gifted them to me. Receiving a specific desired item one Christmas, I told everyone about the gift, never once mentioning the giver.
Defining Gratitude at first seems easy enough, but upon reflection, defining gratitude apart from a full understanding of its relationship to Grace is not possible. Coming from the same Greek root, both charis and eucharisteo depend one upon another, resulting in delight not only in the gift, but the Giver.
gratitude abounds in the sphere of grace
Loving wordplay, I sat with the Greek words, “charis” and “eucharisteo”, with the intent of understanding the nuance of grace birthing gratitude illustrated in 2 Corinthians 4:15:
“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”
Meditating on Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4, I rephrased verse 15 to include both words, “grace” and “gratitude”:
“All things are for your sake, so that as grace abounds to more and more people it may increase gratitude to the glory of God.”
Believing Paul’s intentional play on words in verse 15, led to my grasping Gratitude as the feeling of joy toward someone showing me an undeserved kindness, or grace.
Clearly, Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 4:15 addresses his ministry, his sufferings, and his preaching as grace for the sake of the Corinthians’ salvation and strengthening of their faith. Which subsequently resulted in gratitude [to God] and [for]His glory.
But the underlying truth points us ultimately to God’s steadfast love, suffering, and sacrifice, for our sakes, as the paramount undeserved grace shown to us.
tHE FLAW IN THE OINTMENT OF GRACE
Embracing the truth of 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.“, we fully understand the great exchange of our poverty for His wealth.
Resulting in a heart overflowing with gratitude for the abundance of His grace and free gift of righteousness.
But for the child of God, is not all grace? Our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, (Psalm 50:10) providing for our needs from the abundance of His creation. Working all things together (Romans 8:28-29) by His sovereign grace for His good purpose in conforming us to the image of Christ.
Is gratitude reserved exclusively for saving grace?
Do I see God’s unmerited favor in the mundane moments of my day, unexpected challenges, or care and service provided to me by others?
The flaw in the ointment of grace surfaces in an attitude of entitlement or its converse, an attitude of lack.
While I may view God’s saving grace with heart felt gratitude and love for Him, when I expect a certain level of treatment or provision from God and others, or bemoan an insufficient provision, I am demonstrating ingratitude.
Fully understanding God’s grace extended to me through the undeserved favor of God and others shines forth in humble gratitude which honors the Giver of all grace.
the grace of gratitude
My journey through Grace to Gratitude resulted in a new devotional: “The Grace of Gratitude: A 21 Day Journey Through Grace to Gratitude.” May I invite you to take a journey which will transform your perspective on gratitude?
Ultimately, Gratitude is a response to Grace, which glorifies God.
If you desire to deepen your love for Christ, spending time relishing the beauty of His grace gifted to you, will transform your perspective on gratitude and ignite a deeper love for your Savior.
At a time of year when our thoughts turn naturally to the giving of thanks, why not consider a fresh perspective? My FREE Devotional offers 21 days of verse reflections on both grace and gratitude, journal prompts, and activities designed to turn your heart toward the Giver of all grace.
This new Devotional is FREE and located in my Resource Library for immediate download for all members of my Serenity in Suffering Compassionate Community. If you are not yet a member, sign up below for full access to all my resources, newsletters, and personal connection today!