Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I was listening to our local news station.Â And, they played a commentary by Michael Josephson (Founder of the Josephson Â Institute of Ethics), called â€œCharacter Counts.â€Â The topic of yesterayâ€™s commentary was, appropriately for this time of year, on gratitude.Â At the end of a story on his wifeâ€™s change of perspective on cooking and hosting a large family meal, he said,
â€œShe taught me that gratitude is not always a spontaneous emotion; often, itâ€™s a matter of choice. Itâ€™s a perspective of appreciation that doesnâ€™t necessarily make life easier, but it always makes it better.â€
Over the weekend, I began reading, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, a (great!) new book by several of the pastors from Sovereign Grace Ministries.Â When I picked it up last night, I opened to the chapter entitled â€œGod, My Heart, and Stuffâ€.Â This chapter, as you might have guessed, addresses the sin of covetousness.Â Although we live in an incredibly materialistic and consumer-oriented culture, Dave Harvey offers several ways that we can guard our hearts against covetousness.Â One suggestion is to express specific gratitude.Â He says,
â€œGratitude subverts greed.Â Itâ€™s an expulsive antidote to covetousness in the heart.Â Gratitude is not a feeling, and it isnâ€™t based on present circumstances.Â It is recognition of our dependence on God and others â€“ an act of humility that battles pride in our possessions.Â Grateful speech takes the attention off ourselves and places it on another, whether thatâ€™s the God of our salvation or the spouse who washes our clothes.Â Gratefulness is recognition that God is always good and always right in his dealings with us.â€ (pg. 110)
Mr. Josephson was partially right – gratitude is not a spontaneous emotion.Â But, for us as believers, it is more than just a choiceâ€¦It is Godâ€™s will!
â€œGive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.â€
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)