Well, a new year is upon us. I am sure that you have already made some resolutions. Have you been able to keep all of them up to this point in 2015? Was one of your resolutions to be more grateful in 2015? I have already written several articles on being grateful and you can read them here. The Bible constantly reminds us to be grateful because gratefulness is not our nature. Our sinful nature encourages us to be selfish. This is why we must constantly be reminded to make an effort to be grateful. A resolution to be more grateful this year is a great resolution to make.
I found this interesting graph about the use of the word “grateful”. Keep in mind that gratefulness is something that has to be taught to each new generation.
What does this mean? I believe that for a time, we stopped teaching the next generation about being grateful. We have seemed to see the error of our ways and begun teaching on gratefulness once again. This is our duty to the next generation, to teach them what gratefulness is, to model it for them, and to teach them to be grateful as well.
What does it mean to be grateful? Here are some synonyms for this word:
Did you think of obedience as a synonym? This is what the Bible teaches. We show appreciation to God, we demonstrate gratefulness to Him by obeying what He says for us to do. The Greek word that is transliterated as “thankful” is “Eucharistos” and it means:
- mindful of others
- beneficial to others
- being of service to others
So, gratefulness is a trait that we must learn and put forth effort to practice daily on account of the fact that our sin nature prods us to selfishness and disobedience. Let’s take a look at how this plays out in the Old Testament with the prophet Elijah and the widow in I Kings 17:8-24. Now that you have had a chance to read the passage, let’s examine It and investigate to see what we can learn about being grateful.
I. Gratefulness begins with a relationship with God
The key to being a grateful person is to have a relationship with God. When we do not have a relationship with God, we are selfish and self-centered in our thoughts and actions. We do not want to serve others because we want them to serve us. Once we enter into covenant with God and begin a personal relationship with Him, He transforms our nature. We acquire His nature. As we spend time communicating with Him daily, He teaches us to be more like Him. He speaks to us through His Word and we spend time speaking to Him through prayer. In our passage, Elijah has a personal relationship with God. He lives in a society that is far from God. They give lip service to Him but their daily lives revolve around themselves. Elijah’s days were very similar to our own days. In fact, although we pride ourselves on being “modern”, there really is nothing new under the sun. Because of the hypocrisy, God had caused a terrible drought to overcome the land. Famine was everywhere. People were suffering. Elijah was trying to teach the people to repent and come back to God with all of their hearts but the majority was not interested. Elijah had a relationship with God. He trusted God. He was obedient to God and he sought to serve others. All of these things are qualities of a grateful person who has a genuine relationship with God.
II. Gratefulness must be taught and learned
The majority of the population was not interested in having a genuine relationship with God. They were satisfied with their “religion” that offered lip service to God. Elijah did not focus on trying to change those who would not listen. He shared the message and moved on. On the other hand, there were people, individuals who were interested in hearing the message. One of those is the widow woman. She sees a personal example in Elijah. She also lived in a society full of hypocrites and desperately needed a positive example. She found one in Elijah, a man who had sincere faith, walking with God on a daily basis. Elijah shares God’s Word with her and she believes. Elijah takes the opportunity to teach her God’s Word which also teaches her to be grateful. Elijah takes the time to serve her and her family. He sets a great example for her and we will see later that she learns from his example by putting it to practice. While staying with the woman and her son, the widow’s son falls ill and dies. Elijah trusts the Lord and wants to serve the widow by healing her son, literally, raising him from the dead. God hears Elijah’s prayers and heals the boy. Elijah has a servant’s heart and he teaches the widow to have one as well. Gratefulness is taught and learned in this passage. It all begins, is maintained, and ends with a personal relationship with God through His Word. Is there someone who is teaching you to have and maintain a genuine relationship with God? Is this causing you to be more grateful? Are you seeking to share God’s Word with others so that they can have a genuine relationship with Him and be grateful people too? This needs to happen if you want to be successful in 2015. Why not start today.
III. Gratefulness is having a servant’s heart
The widow learned gratefulness. Let’s take a look at the process so we can see what we need to apply for 2015.
- She sees a practical example in Elijah. He is a practical example of a genuine relationship with God which leads to an attitude of gratefulness, manifested in serving others in obedience to God.
- She hears the Word of God and puts what she learns into practice right away.
- She learns gratefulness from Elijah.
- She demonstrates this gratefulness in her attitude to serve others sacrificially.
What about you my dear friend, do you have a relationship with God? How do you show gratefulness daily? How are you serving the people around you so that you can teach them the Word of God, specifically, how to have a genuine relationship with God which leads to being grateful shown by the fact that you want to serve others? May the Lord help us be more grateful in 2015!