4 Benefits of a Thankful Heart
1. Pride decreases—Humility increases. One of the main stumbling blocks to cultivating a thankful heart is pride. There is a tendency in all of us to take credit for our success.
However, a thankful heart recognizes that all good things come from the hand of a sovereign God and that without his mercy, nothing good is possible. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
In an article titled “The Art of Being a Big Shot,” Howard Butt, a prominent Christian businessman, said these words:
“It is my pride that makes me independent of God. It’s appealing to me to feel that I am the master of my fate, that I run my own life, call my own shots, go at it alone. But that feeling is my basic dishonesty. I can’t go at it alone. I have to get help from other people, and I can’t ultimately rely on myself. I’m dependent on God for my next breath. It is dishonest of me to pretend that I’m anything but a man—weak and limited…When I am conceited, I am lying to myself. I am pretending to be God and not man. My pride is the idolatrous worship of myself. And that is the national religion of Hell!”
Thanksgiving, however, is the perfect cure for pride. A constant acknowledgment of the fact that all we have is a result of God’s grace will lead us to be more humble.
2. Complaining decreases—Contentment increases. If we are continually thanking God for what he has done and is doing in our lives, we will not fall victim to the sin of complaining.
Complaining is not stating the truth about a particular situation that is genuinely wrong. Rather complaining [or grumbling] is an attitude that questions God’s sovereignty over the affairs of our life. It is an attitude that expresses itself in the following manner: “If God loves me, how can he let this happen to me?” Even if we don’t verbally express our complaining [some are introverts], it is still sinful.
Can sinful creatures [that includes all of us], really complain in the light of our sins as Lamentations 3:39 points out, “Why should the living complain when punished for their sins?” If we really understand that we do not deserve any good thing as a result of our sins, we would be amazed at God’s mercy in our lives—be content and thankful in all circumstances and continually say, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing” [Psa 23:1].
3. Doubt in God decreases—Trust in God increases. A significant obstacle to trusting God at all times is the lack of a thankful spirit. However, thanksgiving provides the perfect cure for this problem.
Paul could trust God in all of his trials because he always recalled God’s past deliverances and thus could confidently trust in God for the future as well. Notice his words, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, [who] has delivered us from such a deadly peril [past], and he will deliver us again [future]“ [2 Cor 1:3, 10].
A thankful spirit that continually reflects on God’s past mercies is strengthened to rely on God for all future needs and thus protected from falling victim to the sin of doubt, despair, and taking short-cuts.
4. Worry decreases—Peace increases. One of the drawbacks of Christian living is the tendency to have an unhealthy focus on the negatives and not take enough time to thank God for his blessings. And such an attitude is the perfect recipe for worry to rule in our hearts. However, God’s word has a cure for worry: Have a thankful heart, as seen in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” And when thanksgiving accompanies our prayers, our hearts are free from anxiety as the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” [Phil 4:7].
And to experience these benefits, we should cultivate a thankful heart. And that can be done as we continuously:
(1) Keep reflecting on the cross and
(2) Incorporate thanksgiving as a part of our regular prayer.