Tool Series #3, Developing Gratitude

Tool Series #3, Developing Gratitude

Gratitude is Life Changing
The idea of gratitude is oftentimes marginalized and neglected today. It is quaint “pollyannism” reserved for “Hallmark” card occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas. The New Testament however, raises this peripheral practice to a preeminent lifestyle. Indeed, let this concept rise in our estimation in the battle for freedom, from weakling to warrior, victim to victor and hobo to hero. Gratitude is to be the constant attitude that envelops the Christians life like a fine perfume. This is no placebo, impotent to effect change, but mighty medicine against the infection of lust.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

A Brief Study
The word “gratitude” in Greek is derived from the word “charis” which means grace. Grace/gratitude or “charis” means favor, a gift, that which affords joy. It includes the idea of leaning towards someone to share benefit. It is preeminently used of the Lord’s favor, freely extended to give Himself away to people, because He is always leaning toward them. The word is used 157x’s in the New Testament in it’s different forms making this a dominant theme.

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. Colossians 3:16

The idea here is much the same principle as with forgiveness. Since our many sins have been forgiven, we in turn should be forgiving. Likewise, since Our Lord has extended such gracious favor to us, we in turn should extend that favor back to God in unceasing thankfulness and towards others in kindness. Ungratefulness, complaining, murmuring and the like are out of place for the recipients of such vast gracious favor. Gratitude is, therefore, at the very heart of worship, and worship is the purpose we draw breath.

Ingratitude Leads Down the Spiral of Degradation
Wherever we find a grace filled life, we find that God’s presence is also found. God is drawn to gratitude. It is humility of heart expressing itself with overflowing thankfulness. That is why we need to maintain an attitude of gratitude. One of the early steps toward sin is an attitude of ingratitude. This manifests itself in thousands of different ways. “I wish my wife were…I wish my boss would…If only my children…” This type of thinking is one of the first steps down the Romans One spiral of degradation.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

The dark cloud of negativity that accompanies an attitude of ingratitude usually precedes strong sexual temptations. Whenever we focus on and magnify the darkness through faultfinding, complaining, criticizing, blaming (and many other controlling behaviors) what we are really saying is that we can run our lives better than God. We are placing ourselves as the lead actor on the stage of life and expect everything to go exactly as we imagined.

Self-Willed or Surrendered
In contrast to this self-willed life plagued with lust, there is the surrendered life adorned with the grace of contentment. Lust is only concerned with the craving of that which it does not possess. The antithesis, therefore, is the contentment derived from radical lifestyle thanksgiving and gratitude. The one is focused on all that it does not have, the other is humility overflowing with appreciation for all that it does has. The one is consumed with out of control desire or the oppressing darkness associated with choosing those desires. The other finds an undisturbed life of quiet joy beyond the reach of circumstance. It rests in the absolute sovereignty of God that He is the Potter, and everything that comes in contact with our lives first passed through His hands. If we look hard enough, we can find God’s gifts even in the darkest situations. Can you begin to bless God for the the thing, that formally, you viewed as a curse? When you do, your life will begin to transform in ways you never dreamed.

Embracing Lifestyles Gratitude by Practice
One of the best ways to interrupt this cycle is to practice lifestyle gratitude. Here is a helpful exercise to get you started. With this in mind, we would like you to develop your own personal gratitude list using the acrostic F.I.S.H.E.S. F-Family, I-Intellectual, S-Spiritual, H-Health, E-Economic, S-Social. Please come up with at least ten things you are grateful for under each category.

Take six blank sheets of paper and put at the top of each page, in order, words that start with the first letters of the word F-I-S-H-E- S. On the first page write the word Family, the second the word Intellectual, the third, the word Spiritual, Health, Economic, and Social on the other three pages.

Set aside plenty of time and brainstorm beginning with the family page and list all the items you can think of that you have to be grateful to God for in regard to your family. Do at least ten items of gratitude before proceeding to the next page. Don’t cull any thought you have, write them all down small or great. When you run out of ideas then go to the intellectual page and do the same thing until you exhaust your ability to come up with any more items. Next, go on to the spiritual page and so on until you complete the six page list. You should have a minimum of 10 items on your list for each category. This will give you a list of 60 items to be grateful for; a pretty good start!. Repeat this process until you have at least 500 items on your list.

This is your list, and yours only, to be used when you need it to remind you of just how many things in your life you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is extremely medicinal against many spiritual viruses such as lust, self-pity, depressing and anxiety. Take liberal doses daily by reading your list and adding to it daily. In those times of struggle, get the list, sit down alone, and begin reading your gratitude list out loud to yourself and see how long it takes to get rid of self-pity and /or temptation.

In our next article in the Tool Series, we will be exploring our Identity in Christ and developing our Power of Identity Statement.

Our trained coaches are standing by to teach you these tools and many more with intensive one on one discipleship. We can help you get free from pornography, same sex attraction, the devestaton of betrayal and many other issues related to sexual brokenness. Fill out an confidential application today.