8 Simple Ways We Can Grow In Gratitude


With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’re all thinking of ways we can be thankful.

None of us want to become a prisoner of entitlement. I’d love to help you avoid that. 

I’ve found gratitude to be an invaluable weapon in my life.

I’ve also found that it’s far too easy to not express gratitude. Without it, my life is stuck and shrinks down to a level of self-pity that is just plain ugly.

Without gratitude, our lives lose progress. With it, our lives are full of color, depth, and movement.

It was a lack of gratitude that turned the Israelites 11-day adventure through the wilderness, to the promise land, into a 40-year nightmare!

Here Are 8 Simple Ways To Grow In Gratitude:  

#1 Choose your attitude wisely.

Your attitude is your choice.

We can either react to the circumstances around us or we can respond to what God is up to within us.

“The situation you live in doesn’t have to live in you.” –Roberta Flack

Image Credit: HiConsumption 

Image Credit: HiConsumption 

John Maxwell tells this fabulous story about a man on his lunch break at work.

While on the job site one day he opened up his lunch. Totally frustrated he said out loud, “A bologna sandwhich again!? I hate bologna!” The guy next to him said, “Then why don’t you ask your wife not to make it anymore!” He said, “You leave my wife out of this! I make my own lunches!”

We make our own lunch every day. My attitude is my choice.

#2 Never forget that circling back to express gratitude will never set you back.

In Luke 17, we see an amazing lesson on gratitude. 

After Jesus healed 10 lepers only 1 returned to say “thank you”.

(Luke 17:11-15)  11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back

This man was not about to let the excitement of his breakthrough distract him from saying “thank you”. To get his skin back was to get his life back!

How about you? Who could you circle back to express gratitude to in this season?

Just the simple act of sending a text, making a call, sending a card or choosing to personally visit someone to show your gratitude can change the whole trajectory of your own emotions, day and season.

#3 Remember that gratitude isn’t gratitude until it is expressed.

(Luke 17:15-16) 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. 

 Gratitude is more powerful when it is openly expressed.

Say it. Show it. Have the courage to generously express. 

#4 Realize that unexpressed gratitude is a lost opportunity to give God praise.

(Luke 17:17-19) 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”

God is not some egomaniac in the cosmos.

It’s not that He needs to hear it as much as we need to express it!

#5 Recognize that gratitude revives the expiration date on moments that have long passed.

 Most of us love eating leftovers after Thanksgiving. In fact, many people love the turkey sandwhich leftovers more than the original meal! I am definitely one of those people.

Gratitude has transformative power.

The Apostle Paul told us that we could sanctify food that was originally offered up to demonic idols by giving thanks for it! (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

Gratitude also allows you to relive the joy of moments that have already passed by.

Gratitude draws the strength and sweetness of memories back into the present.

This Thanksgiving our family will be remembering the life of my dad who passed away this July. It will be tearful but it will also be joyful.

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The truth is that we all eat leftovers.

Some of us feed on memories from the filter of gratitude. Unfortunately, some of us eat off the plates of bitterness and resentment from the deceptive server whose name is "entitlement".

We all get to choose which table we will pull ourselves up to.

Proverbs 15:15 "For the despondent, every day brings trouble;
for the happy heart, life is a continual feast."

Experiences can be relived as they are rehearsed and remembered. 

This holiday season, let’s all agree to enjoy the right kind of leftovers, long after the moments fade.

#6 Be thankful for the things that money can’t buy.

We all have things that we wish were in our lives.

It could be things that we simply can’t afford in this season of life.

It could be things we may never be able to afford.

It could be “stuff” other people have that we are envious of.

It could be giftings or natural abilities we wish God had given us.

Or it could just be advantages that other people were born into that we wish was part of our upbringing.  

Here is some potent advice:

 “Envy is proof we have not embraced our own distinction.” –Dr. Mike Murdock

 “Gratitude begins where my sense of entitlement ends.” –Steven Furtick

“Stop staring at your salary and start focusing on your benefits package!*”            –T.D. Jakes

*Psalm 103:105 (Your Benefits Package)

1 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    may I never forget the good things [all His benefits] he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins
    and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
    My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

#7 Recognize that gratitude is a form of honor.

Honor has almost become a lost art in our culture. We can do something about that. We should do something about that.

“Honor is celebrating who a person is without stumbling over who they are not.”   –Bill Johnson

Gratitude not only reminds us who we are, it reminds others of their value, worth, and identity.

University of Iowa "Art & Life in Africa" 

University of Iowa "Art & Life in Africa" 

There is a tribe in Africa that has an amazingly unusual practice.

When a person is caught doing some shameful thing in which they should be punished for, instead of isolating that person, the whole tribe holds them hostage for two days. They all surround this person and express gratitude for all the things they have done right in their lives. They remind them of all the caring and honorable things they have done. Person-by-person they go around express a level of gratitude for this person’s life. This community's actions literally begin to wash away the shame of the guilty person's record.

This practice is so Kingdom-minded it is crazy!

Shame doesn’t have the power to change a person for the better- honor does.

Honor is less about what people deserve and more about what we decide.

Gratitude says more about the one giving it, than the one receiving it.

Gratitude is a form of honor. It can remind you (and those around you) who you really are.

#8 Remind yourself that grateful people can find a blessing in almost any situation.

“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.” –John Ortberg

Sometimes it’s easier to lick our wounds, throw a pity party or rehearse our woes.

Let’s choose better. Let’s find a new focus.  

Check out this amazing story.


Image Credit: Pastor Kyle Huber 

Image Credit: Pastor Kyle Huber 

Matthew Henry (1662-1714), the renowned Bible-scholar and theologian responsible for writing one of the most widely used biblical commentaries, was riding on horseback through the woods one day. He was traveling to a church to be their guest speaker. Suddenly, a masked bandit ran out of the woods. With a gun in his hand, the robber demanded Henry’s belongings to be handed over. Henry got off his horse and obeyed the threatening thief. Henry tried talking to the man but his words fell on deaf ears. The robber took off with all of Henry’s money. Matthew climbed back up onto his horse. He rode away penniless and pondering the traumatic event that just transpired. He said to himself, “I’m supposed to be thankful in everything, but how can I do that with this situation?” Here is what he came up with:

 1st: I’m thankful I’ve never been robbed before.

2nd: I’m thankful he took my money and not my life.

3rd: I’m thankful he didn’t take more (horse, clothes).

4th: Most importantly I’m thankful that I was the robbed and not the robber!

Let's agree to pull up to the right "table" this Thanksgiving. Make sure to eat your "leftovers". And let's be sure to not become prisoners of entitlement.

A life of gratitude looks so much better on you!  

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Join The Conversation. Leave A Comment.

·      Which of the 8 reminders was most helpful to you?

·      Which do you struggle with the most?

·      What is an aspect of gratitude that I didn’t mention?


Joshua FinleyComment