John A. Broadus
It is very easy during hard trials to forget past blessings. God, however, does not want His sons and daughters to display attitudes of ingratitude. He seeks to strengthen us for endurance and reminds us that the habit of thankfulness to God is a valuable asset to get us through such times. John A. Broadus writes here about developing the habit of thankfulness:
“[G]ive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
We hear a great deal said about habits. But it nearly always means bad habits. Why should we not think and speak much about good habits? They are as real, and almost as great, a power for good as bad habits are for evil. . . .
Consider the value of the habit of thankfulness. It tends to quell repining. We are all prone, especially in certain moods, to complain of our lot. Every one of us has at some time or other imagined, and perhaps declared, that he has a particularly hard time in this world. It is to be hoped that in other moods we are heartily ashamed of ourselves for such repining. But how to prevent its recurrence? A most valuable help will be the habit of thankfulness to God. Then if a fretful, repining spirit begins to arise, just in the middle, perhaps, of some complaining sentence, we shall suddenly change to an expression of thankfulness-and perhaps end with laughing at ourselves for the folly of such repining.
It tends to enhance enjoyment. We all know that when we receive a gift, with any true sentiment and any suitable expression of thankfulness, the reaction of gratitude augments our gratification.
It serves to soothe distress. Persons, who are greatly afflicted, and not wont to be thankful, sometimes find the memory of past joys only an aggravation of present sorrow. Far otherwise with one who has learned to be habitually thankful. For him the recollection of happier hours is still a comfort.
It helps to allay anxiety. Did you ever notice what the apostle says to the Philippians? “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Notice carefully that we are to prevent anxiety by prayer as to the future with thanksgiving for the past.
It cannot fail to deepen penitence. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” When we are fully in the habit of thankfully observing and recalling the loving-kindnesses and tender mercies of our heavenly Father, this will make us perceive more clearly, and lament more earnestly, the evil of sin against him; and what is more, this will strengthen us to turn from our sins to his blessed service.
It has as one necessary effect to brighten hope. “I love to think on mercies past, And future good implore” is a very natural conjunction of ideas. If we have been wont to set up Ebenezers upon our path of life, then every glance backward along these milestones of God’s mercy will help us to look forward with more of humble hope.
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Faith, Grace, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Prayer, Sermon | Tagged: Christ Jesus, Epistle to the Philippians, Father God, First Epistle to the Thessalonians, God, Gratitude, Jesus, Philippians | Comments Off