I don’t know about you, but I certainly see it in myself— a tendency toward entitlement and ingratitude. In a world that convinces us that we should have everything that we could ever want without the smallest amount of
effort, it’s nearly impossible to say that we haven’t fallen victim to the current crisis of thanklessness. But even the secular thought market acknowledges the importance of gratitude. In an article published by psychologytoday.com, it says, "Research shows that people differ in the degree to which they are inclined to experience and express gratitude.
As a result, gratitude is said to exist both as a temporary feeling and as a dispositional trait.” But in the Bible, we’re not given this option. We’re commanded to give thanks, to be grateful. According to the Bible, we should live our lives with grace and gratitude.
The Bible uses the word grace to describe those things that we receive from God but could never earn or merit ourselves. In other words, they are available from the Creator to creation, but the creation itself could never manufacture them or deserve them. In theology, this grace is broken into two
categories—Common Grace and Saving Grace.
On the one hand, Common Grace is that grace which is available to everyone without distinction, without prejudice, without discrimination. The sunshine, the rain, the breeze, life in general—these are blessings that fall under the heading of Common Grace. Whether or not we are faithful to God, kind to people, honest on our taxes—Common Grace is something that everyone is exposed to, whether or not they're grateful.
On the other hand, Saving Grace is that grace which is available by the means of faith alone. At least, this is what biblical Christianity teaches. Not everyone has faith, but this is what’s meant when Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
So, in view of God’s grace, the Bible commands us to express gratitude. It says in Psalm 136:1, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Let’s take a moment to break this down.
First, we’re to give thanks. This isn’t an option. This isn’t a suggestion. It isn’t something that we’re supped to do if things are going the we we’d prefer them to go. The apostle Paul once said, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), presumably because God works all things—the good, the bad, and the ugly—for our good (Romans 8:28).
Second, we’re to give thanks “to the LORD.” In other words, our gratitude needs a target, a Person to whom it’s directed. In this case, our gratitude should be directed to the LORD. In our English Bibles, the word “LORD” is in all capitals. That’s done with a purpose; it distinguishes it from “Lord” and from “God.” LORD, as it’s seen in our English translations, represents the personal name of God, Yahweh (or the anglicized Jehovah). In short, we’re giving thanks to the God who is knowable.
Third, we’re given a reason—“for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” The Christian faith is a faith that commands gratitude that follows grace. In that regard, no matter how we might feel, God is gracious, and, therefore, we should be grateful.
So, the next time you’re going through your day, enjoying the many blessings that have come your way, take a moment and say a prayer of thanksgiving, “for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” He is gracious and good, and we should be faithful and grateful.