Gratitude doesn’t come naturally. Another observation during 30 Days of Thankful. We have to teach our children to be thankful, so it makes sense that God teaches it to us. In the Old Testament, He even created rituals and celebrations to teach His people how to give thanks.
Giving thanks is not so much for God’s benefit, though I am sure it warms His heart as it does any good parent when their children show gratitude. He doesn’t need our thankfulness to be God. But God knows that thankful people are better people. They are also happier and healthier.
We’ve talked about the emotional and physical blessings that come when we’re thankful. But there’s more: When you grasp the concept of giving thanks to God, you’re beginning to grasp something much more powerful—His grace. I hope you’ll see the connection here.
Our word “grateful” comes from an old English word, “grate” which means “thanks.” The word grateful is also loosely related to the word grace.
But the Bible connection between grace and thankfulness is much stronger. Grace is defined as the “gift or blessing brought to mankind by Jesus Christ, favor, gratitude, thanks, a favor, kindness.” The Greek word commonly translate as “grace” is charis.
Charis is also one of several words in the New Testament translated as “thank.” Here are a couple of examples where charis conveys thankfulness:
“I thank [charis] God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3 NIV).
“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 [charis] in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16 NIV).
Charis doesn’t just communicate thankfulness. Charis–or grace–is the very substance of our salvation. Ephesians 2:8 says it strongly: “For it is by grace [charis] you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…(Ephesians 2:8 NIV).
How exciting to think that as we practice gratitude, we also breathe new life into our understanding of God’s amazing grace!
So let’s continue to be thankful. And remember, it requires something of a fight for us to walk in God’s grace in this broken, and sometimes hostile, world. As Peter reminded a church that was being heavily persecuted: ‘This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it (1 Peter 5:12 NIV).