Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thess 5:18 (NIV)

Yesterday’s blog identified four benefits of regularly giving thanks:

  • We are being obedient to God’s will. Obedience is always honored by God.
  • It keeps us humble by regularly reminding us that we’re not the source of all the good things that happen in our lives.
  • It builds our faith by reminding us of God’s faithfulness and goodness to us.
  • It shelters us from the sin of ingratitude.

This last benefit might seem like a small thing, but read this verse from Romans. I’m including it in two translations:

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.
Romans 1:21 (NIV)

 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. 
Romans 1:21 (NLT)

Two blogs ago, I wrote about the direct connection between an attitude of gratefulness and being made whole mind, body and spirit. We see the antithesis of that in this verse – that there is a direct connection between an ungrateful heart and a spiritual darkness that brings confusion and foolish actions.

When we discipline ourselves to consistently and regularly rejoice over what God has done in our lives, we reinforce in our minds (and spirits) truths about who God is and how He interacts with His people.

When we allow complaining and whining to take center stage, we reinforce lies that the enemy is whispering in our ears – God doesn’t love me, God won’t provide what I need, God isn’t interested in blessing me, God is not good to me. Our thinking becomes “futile” and we begin to think up “foolish ideas” about God, His character and His actions. Ultimately, our hearts and minds become “dark and confused.” That sounds a lot like depression to me. I’ve experienced serious depression. Dark and confused does a pretty good job of describing it. I didn’t like it.

I prefer the happy face of celebration. I’m not saying that all depression can be healed by giving thanks, but it’s a fantastic way to start…and I’m confident that some depression is healed through this spiritual discipline.

Why? Because when I am regularly reminded that all I have comes from God and that He is constantly faithful in my life, it develops a sense of contentment and peace in the very center of my being. And I like that. A lot.

So, friends, this Christmas season, what is at the forefront of your mind – the stress of the season, or the blessings from a God who gave up heaven so that we might one day gain it? Let’s agree to focus on the latter and to regularly give thanks for the innumerable ways He’s blessed us. It will significantly impact your Christmas season.

Let me leave you with this quote from Charles Spurgeon:

To be silent over God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude…To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of the spiritual life. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthful and invigorating exercise which quickens the pulse of the believer, and nerves him for fresh enterprises in his Master’s service.

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