The Genesis of Gratitude

The Genesis of Gratitude

Gratitude: a feeling of appreciation or thanks; the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.

Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that gratitude has two key components, which he describes in a Greater Good essay, ‘Why Gratitude Is Good.’
“First,” he writes, “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.” In the second part of gratitude, he explains, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.” Emmons and other researchers see gratitude as “a relationship-strengthening emotion, because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people” and it is felt that gratitude encourages us not only to appreciate gifts but to repay them (or pay them forward).

Putting these submissions into the Christian context, our gratitude towards God is an affirmation that we believe He is good and that He has given us many gifts, big and small, to help us live as mirror images of Christ here on Earth. When we are constantly filled with thanksgiving to God, our relationship with Him is nourished and strengthened and the overflow of this is our reaching out to be a blessing to others around us (because we will always be conduit pipes for God – vessels in His hands).

One would expect that someone who has received so much in terms of material blessings would be full of gratitude but I’ve been in a meeting where gratitude was being expressed in a ministration and the only person who stood up and was visibly overwhelmed with gratitude was someone who had next to nothing in terms of material possessions.

I believe that thanksgiving (gratitude) arises from the knowledge that all one has is given by grace, beginning with the simple gift of life and breath. When we have the ‘entitlement mentality’, we cannot appreciate what we are given because we believe we deserve it……that it is owed to us. Therefore, we are more aware of the things we are asking for than the things we have received.

What have we been given?

Blessed and worthy of praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ, just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will— to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].
(Ephesians 1:3-6, AMP)

1. Life: God is the Author of life and the Possessor of the breath in our lungs/nostrils.
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
(Job 33:4, NIV)
See also Genesis 2:7; Job 12:10; Psalm 3:5; Isaiah 42:5.

2. Salvation: It is God who knew we were lost and under the captivity of Satan and it was He who took the initiative to ensure we as lawful captives could be set free to be all that He created us to be – His own image here on Earth, the objects of His amazing love and His beloved children.

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful and trustworthy Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who [always] loves us and who [has once for all] freed us [or washed us] from our sins by His own blood (His sacrificial death)—  and formed us into a kingdom [as His subjects], priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the power and the majesty and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(Revelation 1:5-6, AMP)
See also Psalm 40:2; Romans 5:8; Colossians 1:3.

3. Everything we need: What trips us up is the clause that everything we need is IN CHRIST and it is pursuit of HIM and not of these things that guarantees their manifestation in our lives.

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.
(Matthew 6:31-33, TLB)

The heavenly host give thanks continually to God (Revelation 4:9; 7:12; yet they have no material needs being met. What are they thanking Him for?

And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell face downward and worshiped God, saying, “To You we give thanks, O Lord God Almighty [the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all], Who are and Who were, because You have taken Your great power and the sovereignty [which is rightly Yours] and have [now] begun to reign.
(Revelation 11:16-17, AMP)

If we can just catch a glimpse of God’s glory, we too would be full of thanksgiving simply because He is God and He has allowed us partake of His glory by reason of the blood of Jesus, such that we can live under His sovereign rulership every day of our lives. This, in my opinion, gives birth to any other form of gratitude expressed in and through our lives.