On a Sunday before Thanksgiving a few years ago, I preached on giving thanks. We had a visitor in our service and I noticed that she clearly was not happy when she came. However, her countenance visibly changed to a much more positive attitude as the service went on. I did not know it until after the service, but her truck had broken down and she resented the prospect of not being able to drive her big rig for a whole week.
Since this was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, my message was about a thankful attitude. Unfortunately, thankfulness is not in our nature; it needs to be taught. Every good parent knows that children are not thankful and that they need to be constantly reminded to say “thank you”. We don’t normally think much more about this than “it’s the right thing to do” when someone does us a favor. However, thanksgiving goes much deeper than that.
Without considering the effect a heart-felt “thank you” can have on the person giving the favor and being thanked for it, let’s examine what a thankful attitude will have on the one being blessed with a favor.
If I have a thankful attitude, I will always be aware of any undeserved favors I get from others. In fact, I will at all times even actively examine every situation, to see if I am getting something that I did not work for, something I did not deserve. Any time I see that I am being blessed with an undeserved favor, I will not only thank the person who issued that favor, but I will register in my mind, that someone likes me enough to grant me a favor. With that kind of attitude, it is very easy to have a positive outlook on life and enjoy life to its fullest, because I know that other people like me, which is evident from the favors I am getting from others.
On the other hand, if I have an entitlement attitude, thinking that it’s only fair that I get help and “stuff”, then I will not even be happy if people are doing me favors. After all, I am entitled to those things and wonder what took them so long, or why didn’t they get me something better. With an entitlement attitude we will hardly ever be happy, since we don’t see that all the things we have and the things we are getting are undeserved favors.
Even when we are working for the things we need or which we want, we should be thankful for our ability to work and for the job we are holding. Here again, thankfulness will make us better employees who appreciate having a job. This in turn will prompt us to do the best job we are able to do and there are some fringe benefits associated with that. First, we will like “a job well done” since that gives us some satisfaction in itself. Furthermore, we will not dread going to work every morning, but will look forward to another enjoyable workday. And, since we are doing a good job and are reliable employees, this makes our boss look good, which opens the door to advancement with our current employer or even in another company. This is an example of how a thankful attitude can make a difference between a lousy job at the daily grind and a wonderful position with a good employer.
There was once a boy who regularly prayed before meals, but he had an unbelieving father. He prayed: “Thank you Lord for providing this food”. Once the father scoffed that God did not provide the dinner, but that he had worked for it. Thus, the boy prayed: “Thank you Lord for providing work for my father so that we could buy this food”.
Whether we have a thankful attitude will make a big difference in our jobs, in our family and other relationships, in our level of happiness and even in the level of favors we receive.
One happy trucker
During my message that Sunday, the trucker began to see that there are some good elements in every situation. All of a sudden, after her cloud lifted, she began to realize that she could spend Thanksgiving with her family in South Carolina. Truly, all things work for the good of those who love God…(Rom 8:28)
by: Klaus Meyer, Pastor, (retired)
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