You’ve heard the joke: A wife is asked, “Did you wake up grumpy this morning?” She replies, “No, I let him sleep in!” Ha! Ha!
Well, I confess, I can be grumpy at times, especially during COVID. Yet, I know that is not God’s best. The Bible says that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). Each day we make a choice whether to be grateful or grumpy.
Grateful people are gracious. Grumpy people grumble. What is your tendency? It affects every relationship we have.
It affects my relationship with God
God wants us to be thankful to Him! The Psalmist says it is the first step of praise. “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving…” (Psalm 100:4). We should never forget the good things God has done (Psalm 66:5; James 1:17). Sadly, grumbling does just that. Remember the children of Israel when they complained to Moses and Aaron about their circumstances? Moses said, “Your grumblings are not against us but the LORD” (Exodus 16:8). They complained to God, who had delivered them from slavery. Grumbling is a sin that diminishes our faith. It shows that we don’t really trust God to provide for us. On the other hand, gratitude takes notice of what God has done and how good He is.
Here are some ways to be more thankful to God.
- Set aside time to pray and count your blessings.
- Think from an eternal perspective.
- Remember God’s promises.
It affects my relationship with Others
We like to be around grateful people; grumpy people, not so much! Being thankful for others takes my eyes off myself. The Apostle Paul gave us a great example when he wrote that he was thankful for the people of Philippi “every time he remember[ed] them” (Philippians 1:3). What’s interesting is that what happened in Philippi was not all positive for him. He and Silas were arrested, flogged, and thrown into prison (Acts 16:25-31). Despite this, he was thankful in every thought of them! Grateful people focus on the good, not the bad.
That’s why the Bible warns us against being grumpy! “Do all things without grumbling…” (Philippians 2:14). Bobby Shaw writes, “Like a virus, grumbling spreads, and even those who should know better can get infected with the complaining bug.”
Here are some ways to be more thankful for Others.
- Write some thank-you notes.
- Stop comparing yourself with others.
- Start looking at the good things in others!
It affects my relationship with myself.
Whether I’m grateful or grumpy is more about me than anything else. Jesus said, “For whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matthew 12:34 NLT).
Gratitude changes you! Each of us is happier when we are grateful. Rick Hanson, a neuro-psychologist, says that focusing on gratitude creates neural pathways in the brain that become superhighways to happiness and inner strength. “You take better care of yourself. Your stress level goes down. You stay healthy. You feel better. You have more energy to accomplish more things. You create a dynamic workplace that’s fun to work in.”
Here are some ways to be more thankful for yourself.
- Accept your limitations.
- Confess your sins, including the sin of grumbling.
- Use the gifts and graces God has given you!
BEFORE YOU GO
It’s easy to spend this week of Thanksgiving focusing on thankfulness and then forget all about it in the chaos of the Christmas season. Let’s agree to practice gratitude to God, toward others, and toward ourselves during this busy season. We’ll be better pastors, leaders, spouses, parents, and friends.