In looking up the word “gratitude” from various sources, most of the definitions were very similar and what one might expect: thankfulness, the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; a natural expression of thanks in response to blessings, protection, or love, etc… One definition, however, significantly stuck out to me: gratitude is a joyful commitment of one’s personality to God.
Researching gratitude chronologically in the Bible, it took me a while to find it, which was surprising to me! Although we don’t see a “thank you” in the first few chapters of Scripture, I’m certain Adam and Eve walked so closely with God their hearts were wrapped in perfect gratitude. They were joyfully committed to God, until they ate of the forbidden fruit. The Hebrew term for gratitude, “hakarat hatov” means “recognizing the good”; surely after they were cast out of the Garden they recognized the good they had while in there, although there’s no more mention of them verbally praising God for what was or what could have been.
Moving down several generations to Noah we see everyone has turned their back on God, except Noah; he worshipped and loved God. Perhaps his amazing obedience was found in his heart of gratitude and what saved and set him and his family apart from those who were wiped out in the great flood. I can’t imagine a lot (if any!) gratitude going on in anyone other than Noah – the Bible tells us the people of this time were full of evil and sin, which is why God sent the flood. If the opposite of joyful is sad and the opposite of commitment is refusal, could it be that the people of Noah’s time sadly refused their personality to God? I’ve heard that the root of all sin is ingratitude; it certainly seems to be a great place for the devil to get a foothold as he did in every person but Noah during this time.
Abraham, the father of faith and many generations, was one whose heart of gratitude almost cost him the life of his beloved son, but God spared Isaac. His commitment to God was greater than any other thing, even his own son. God sparing Isaac shows us how He blessed Abraham’s obedience. Even when he questioned, even when he doubted, obedience flowed from Abraham’s heart of gratitude.
In Exodus 15 we find Moses and the Israelites singing a song of deliverance and praise after God led Israel out of Egypt and saved them by parting the Red Sea. This is the first record of a written song of praise to the Lord and it is beautiful! An excerpt:
“I will sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously; He has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise Him- my father’s God, and I will exalt Him!” Exodus 15:1-2 (NLT)
First Chronicles 16 records King David’s first song of praise to God, and oh how I love it! An excerpt and my favorite part:
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done. Sing to Him; yes sing His praises. Tell everyone about His wonderful deeds. Exult in His Holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him. Remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles, and the rulings He has given.” 1 Chronicles 16:8-12 (NLT)
Having written the majority of the Psalms, David went on to write more songs of praise than anyone else in Scripture; perhaps this was why God called David “a man after His own heart.” Despite his shortcomings, sins and failures, he was committed to God and had a heart of gratitude which never ceased praising God.
Have you stopped praising God? Are you joyfully committed to Him or maybe just partially committed? What’s so interesting is the use of “gratitude” in the English language has significantly decreased over the decades…I look at my own life and wonder if the same is true? Have I let what I want and my many prayer requests take over my heart of gratefulness, gratitude and praise? Has my lack of possessing a heart of gratitude been the cause of any disobedience? Having a heart of gratitude, in constant thanks and praise to God can only help us to recognize the good no matter our circumstances. Starting our days with praise and thanks…for the air in our lungs, for the day He has made, for the grace He has so wonderfully given us in His son Jesus Christ. Yes, living with hearts of gratitude is the only way to live. When we are truly grateful, our lives will show it.
This Thanksgiving season and in the days beyond, renew and vow a joyful commitment of your personality and all that you are to Him. He’s worth it and the blessings He will bestow on you because of your joyful commitment cannot be numbered. 🙂