I thank my God every time I remember you. - Phil. 1:3
I was speaking to a group of leaders the other night and referenced St. Paul’s grateful remarks from Philippians Chapter 1. A friend came up afterwards to say how much he appreciated my comments. He said he’d been told that gratitude is first among the virtues and asked what I thought. In light of Paul’s statement from 1 Corinthians 13 that 3 things remain: faith, hope, and love…with the greatest being love, I wasn’t quite ready to move gratitude to the top of the “virtue hierarchy.” But, I certainly understood his point.
Because gratitude is a powerful thing.
It changes a person…
…so much so, it’s almost visible.
You can see gratitude on someone…like a contagious smile or kind eyes. It’s difficult to hide. Thankful people simply see things that others don’t. They look at life differently, because they see everything through the lens of gratitude.
True gratitude has two powerful components, both of which are essential.
The first is a clear view of all the good things we possess. Gratitude looks around and sees people we love, gifts we enjoy, opportunities we’ve been given and recognizes them all as gifts rather than as rights or entitlements. So many of the good things in life were not earned, but were just given. Grateful people know this well and, consequently, are far more focused on what they have than what they don’t.
Gratitude also recognizes that these gifts have a giver. It’s not just luck or good fortune. We are grateful to someone. Paul said it this way: “I thank my God.” Gratitude looks and sees that all these gifts come from the hand of a Father who loves us. I’ve said many times that I feel sorry for atheists who have no one to thank in those moments when they are overcome with gratitude! Without an object, gratitude just seems like hollow self-congratulations.
True gratitude sees God’s goodness all around! Consequently, it feeds our faith, fills us with hope, and gives expression to the love that we have in our Father!
Hey, wait a minute…Now that I think about it, maybe my friend was on to something…
Gratitude really is a powerful thing!
(One day, when I was in a particularly grateful state of mind, I wrote a song called “Simple Things.” Check it out here!)