November 21, 2018 • Life for Leaders
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Gratitude has numerous benefits. Behavior and medical science tell us so. As does the Bible. No doubt we should offer thanks to God because God deserves it, and because it’s the polite thing to do. But when we express our gratitude to God, we also benefit in many ways. (See the devotions from Monday and Tuesday.)
The connection between gratitude and joy is easy to understand. Suppose you run into a dear, old friend today. As you’re chatting for several minutes, you feel utterly cheerful. But then the day goes on, and you focus on other things. In the late evening, before bed, you take time to be thankful for the gifts of the day. All of a sudden you remember seeing your old friend and you feel abundant joy all over again. Gratitude gives you access to and stirs up joy.
But that’s not all. Even as gratitude enhances our joy, it also guards our hearts. It keeps us from pridefully owning that which is really not ours. Consider another example. Suppose your boss comes into your office today and says you’re getting a raise. You are thrilled, of course, and thankful to your boss for the good news. As you think about your raise, you remember all of the good, hard work you have done for your company. In a way, you earned that raise. But then you remember all the ways God has blessed you in your work, perhaps giving you a good boss or guiding you through difficult times or allowing you to live in a country of opportunity or, well, you name it. As you thank God for your raise, you realize that it’s as much a gift as something you have earned. So, you still feel all sorts of joy, but you do not get puffed up with your own awesomeness. Rather, you remember in joyful gratitude the awesomeness and grace of God.
When you are grateful, when you thank God for his gifts to you, not only are you acknowledging God as the gift-giver, but also you are saying, “It’s not about me.” You can receive God’s gifts with joy, but without letting that joy turn to pride. Because of gratitude, your joy is great and your heart is protected.
Something to Think About:
Can you think of a time in your life when gratitude led to joy? When?
What are some of the things in your life for which you are most grateful? As you think of these things, do you feel joy?
Have there been times in your life when God protected you from harmful pride? When and how? Did gratitude have anything to do with this?
Something to Do:
Set aside some time today to thank God for some of his best gifts to you. As you do this, do you feel joy? If so, attend to that joy. Enjoy it! And offer even your joy as an offering to the Lord.
Gracious God, how wonderful it is to receive good gifts from you. And how doubly wonderful to feel joy in receiving them. And how triply wonderful to have our joy enhanced with gratitude. Thank you, indeed, for the gift of thankful joy!
As I celebrate your gifts to me with gratitude, help me not to take credit for what is not mine. And, even as I acknowledge my contribution to the good things in my life, may my gratitude keep my heart from pride. O Lord, every good and perfect gift comes from you, the Father of the heavenly lights! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
God’s Work in Us (Philippians 1:1–26)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.