Do you want to be closer to God, make more friends, create a greater impact in this world, and live a longer more stress-free life? The solution is simple but profoundly difficult. Modern science now confirms the answer the Bible has taught for millennia: show gratitude.
Let’s take a brief look at the benefits of gratitude as revealed in the bible and modern science. There are at least 7 benefits we can explore.
#1: Gratitude leads to greater faith
The Apostle Paul boldly tells us to give thanks in all circumstances and then we’ll be following God’s will for us (1 Thess. 5:18). God wants us to live grateful lives for our own good. But not only that, gratitude strengthens our faith by reminding us of God’s past faithfulness. Psalm 136 provides a great template by rehearsing many times in Israel’s past where God showed his faithful love.
#2: Grateful people have better relationships
Thanksgiving is a form of worship. It helps us to see God and his work in our lives with appreciation instead of a demanding or jaded spirit. As we know from our human friendships, it’s far more enjoyable to spend time with someone who is grateful and positive than it is to be with someone who is negative and self-consumed. Gratefulness frees us from our negativity so we can be more open in our relationships with God and people.
#3: Thanksgiving reduces anxiety and leads to inner peace
Modern science reveals extensive proof that grateful people suffer fewer emotional problems than ungrateful people. This confirms what the Apostle Paul taught in Phil. 4:6-7: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In other words, if you don’t want to be anxious, pray with thanksgiving.
#4: Gratefulness improves our physical and mental health
In Psalm 32 David describes being so troubled by his transgressions that his bones wasted away and he groaned all day. When we hold onto a grudge, harbor resentment, or demand our rights be honored we can unwittingly carry physical and mental stress that can lead to our death. Being thankful requires us to relinquish our control. When we do this our stress will dissipate, aggression will subside, we will sleep better, and our minds will be free to concentrate and think more clearly and more deeply.
#5: Thankful people experience deep spiritual joy
When thankfulness pushes aside anxiety and turmoil, it makes way for the fruits of the Spirit to fill us. In particular, we will experience abundant joy as we acknowledge God’s victories and presence in our lives (see Psalm 126).
#6: Gratefulness protects us from envy and covetousness
Thankful people are not perfect, but we are significantly protected from many common temptations like envy and covetousness. It’s hard to be truly thankful and jealous at the same time.
#7: Gratitude proclaims God’s greatness
Thankful people naturally declare God’s faithfulness and deeds. In Psalm 105:1, the psalmist calls us to “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!” The connection between thanksgiving and witnessing shows up frequently in the Bible. Thanksgiving creates a fountain in our souls that naturally bubbles up and gives us the confidence to tell others. We can’t help it.
Sounds so simple! But I think we all know it’s not or there would be a lot more grateful people in the world. The good news is that gratitude can be cultivated.
As a challenge activity, I invite you to try something for the next 7 days. When you first get up tomorrow and right before you go to sleep do this: Sitting on the edge of your bed, take three deep breaths. As you slowly release each breath tell God some things you’re thankful for. You can do this out loud or quietly. Write some of the things that come to mind in your gratitude journal.
Father, I thank you for making me and showing me so many ways that you’re active in my life and around me. Thank you for my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Thank you for your Holy Spirit and the fruits of your spirit you promise like joy, love, and peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.