#ThinkingTuesday – Change your thinking; Change your life.
This week’s #ThinkingTuesday is back to the traditional: quotes!
A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.
— James E. Faust
A godly farmer was asked to dine with a well-known gentleman. While there, he asked a blessing at the table as he was accustomed to do at home. His host said jeeringly, “That’s old fashioned; it is not customary nowadays for well-educated people to pray before they eat.” The farmer responded that with him it was customary, but that some of those on his farm never prayed over their food. “Ah, then,” said the gentleman, “they are sensible and enlightened. Who are they?” “My pigs,” the farmer answered.
Being grateful when God does something for you is a mark of respect and a sign of humility. It shows an understanding of the fact that we are often not deserving of the gifts God gives us and we are so truly appreciative of what He’s done that we will testify about it, to glorify Him and encourage others.
Just like the story, ungratefulness is swine-like behaviour and we must avoid it at all costs! Pigs are often considered the lowest of animals, indeed the correlation between ungratefulness and pigs in this story is no coincidence. An ungrateful person is like a pig and will be considered lower than his/her counterparts!
Thankfulness is the foundation for developing a lot of key virtues as Faust rightfully said. Jesus thanked the father at every opportunity He got; (See Matthew 11:25, John 11:41-42, Luke 22:17, Matthew 15:36) and we too must emulate this as much as we can. We must never depart from Jesus’ pattern of thanksgiving, His grateful heart is one of the things that made Him great in character. Despite the sorrow of the mission He undertook, He was able to give praise and thanks to the father on several occasions. Therefore, we too must give thanks, in times of sorrow or joy. It is the mark of true greatness to be able to remain cheerful no matter the situation:
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
— Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)
Let’s take a look at 3 people who achieved greatness because they were thankful.
The Leper: (Luke 17:12-19)
Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? “Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
It might not look like much of greatness at first sight but look at it more closely:
Out of 10, the 1 who came back to was made “well”, but the others remained “cleansed”. The status of cleansed was desirable, but the status of well, was better and much more desirable — If you compare the meanings of the original greek words, you will find that a cleansed man would be able to perform ceremonial rights and could live in the community, i.e. “removal of physical stains”; while a well man on the other hand, was “restored to health” & would be completely free of the disease, he wouldn’t even look like one who ever had leprosy!
The one who was made well, was automatically on a greater level than the nine who were cleansed, his miracle became more magnificent, all because he returned to give thanks!
Hannah: (1 Samuel 2:1-10;21)
Yes, this one we all know and love. Hannah, the woman who prayed so desperately before the Lord that her lips moved but her voice was not heard, her soul cried out to the Lord and when He answered her she was not ungrateful, she sang a song of thanksgiving unto the Lord, she also offered the answer to our prayers back unto the Lord to show how grateful she was that her prayer was answered. Hannah didn’t care about having the son around to show off, she just wanted to be able to say that she was no longer barren!
How many of us can pray for something and when God gives it to us, we give it back to Him to show our gratitude. God gives us a good jobs with good salaries and then we flinch when it’s time to pay tithe? What kind of gratitude is that? Hannah would be laughing at many of us from on high, because she knows that one can’t and achieve greatness with that kind of attitude. God gives and God takes, we must be grateful for the little for us to get to the place of greatness where we have much to be thankful for!
How was Hannah rewarded with greatness?
Hannah kept her promise to the Lord and so God blessed her with more children!
And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD.
— 1 Samuel 2:21 (NKJV)
You know what’s “great” about this? Hannah had a rival, a woman who tormented her constantly when she had no child. Now when she bore Samuel and offered him back to the Lord, she only got to see him once a year when she went to make sacrifice with her husband, so she would have been lonely again, and her rival would have reason to torment her once more, but God did not let that happen, God elevated Hannah’s status from barren to fruitful to flourishing!
If she hadn’t thanked God for the one son she bore, God would not have blessed her with three more sons and two daughters!
David: (2 Samuel 6: 14-16)
Last but not least is David. King David, with all his psalms and songs on thanksgiving, how can anyone else compete? David leads the way on thankfulness. If David did anything, the glory went straight to God.
If he defeated a giant, it was because of God.
If his army was victorious, it was because of God.
If his nation enjoyed peace, it was due to God’s protection.
If he endured pain, it was by God.
This kind of awareness will naturally lead to thanksgiving and it is a kind of awareness we should all seek to cultivate in our lives. We see particularly in 2 Samuel 6 that when the ark of the LORD was returned, David danced with all his might before the Lord to the extent that his own wife despised him! He was leaping and whirling, can you imagine it, a whole king! Kings are usually so regal and composed, but here was King David, partying on the ground like a “base fellow”. David’s humility and thankfulness in all situations played a part in getting him to the great heights that he conquered.
From these three examples we see varying methods of displaying thankfulness:
- Through words
- Through promises
- Through dancing/worship
Each of these methods are unique and a wonderful way of showing gratitude. Above all things, we see a great display of humility in all of these characters. Gratefulness is a lesson on humility that we must not miss out on as believers because we know that God elevates the humble.
“And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
— Matt 23:12 (NKJV)
Those who want to be great must be servants first. That is the secret behind the principle that being grateful breeds greatness. If you are grateful, it is a sign of humility and humility is the first step towards greatness.
Finally, our greatest gift is eternal life through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. As Paul said, “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” — 2 Cor. 9:15. If you have nothing else to be thankful for, thank God for this gift daily!
Let’s challenge our thinking on the route to achieving greatness, the conventional route of the world often finds greatness achieved at dire cost and great struggle but on this narrow path, the only cost God asks of you is humility. Let’s take the first step by being grateful and showing God that we have the humility it takes to bear the weight of greatness. As Saint Augustine said:
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.