Don’t Keep Your Gratitude to Yourself
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
As you may recall, I have suggested that we set aside the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving Day in the United States as a season of gratitude. I have encouraged you to pay particular attention to the ways God has blessed you and set aside time to communicate your gratitude in prayer.
Paul's example in Ephesians 1:15-16 suggests another dimension of thanksgiving: Don't keep your gratitude to yourself! Or, to put it positively: Share your gratitude with others. Imitate Paul, who thanks God for the faith and love of those to whom he is writing, and who lets them know of his gratitude for them.
As a pastor, I was blessed to get almost instant encouragement from my congregation when I preached. As I stood at the door greeting folks, I'd hear "Nice sermon, pastor" or "Thanks for that sermon." These regular gifts of gratitude meant a lot to me. But, even more, I was deeply touched when someone would make an appointment to see me just to say thanks. Or, perhaps they might send a note to say "Thank you." I saved many of these and still have them. They are treasures of encouragement for me.
I expect you know what I'm talking about here from your own experience. When someone shares thanks to God for you, you feel deeply touched. It's a different feeling than when someone communicates thanks directly to you. On the one hand, you sense a depth of gratitude that goes beyond ordinary expressions of thanks. Yet, on the other hand, when someone thanks God for you, you can't get too puffed up because God gets the credit, not you. So there is a sweet but humble satisfaction that comes when you hear, "I thank God for you."
Why not give this satisfaction to those in your life who have made a difference to you? You might begin with those right around you: your family members, your colleagues at work, your teachers, your friends. You might even contact people from your past, former coaches or mentors, past bosses or coworkers. I just wrote a letter to a former doctor who treated me with expertise and kindness.
In this season of thanksgiving, as you thank the Lord for people, let them know about it!
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are there people in your life for whom you are grateful who need to know about your gratitude? How will you communicate to them your thankfulness for them?
PRAYER: Gracious God, you have filled my life with wonderful people. Thank you for my family and friends, for my teachers and coaches, for my Sunday School teachers and youth leaders. Thanks, Lord, for the good people who fill my life today. As I pray gratefully for all of these, may I also find ways to share my gratitude with them. Amen.