Gratitude: Why So Difficult?
We live in a day and age where so many things are instant and handed to us whenever we want them and wherever we want them. This is a time where there is more wealth to go around and access to a higher standard of living than at any other point in history. One would think that with all of these blessings, it would be easy to have a heart of gratitude. However, we find time and again that it is exactly the opposite.
In 2 Samuel 11, King David has it all, a palace, kingdom, wealth, armies and yet, even he is discontent with his situation. When presented with the temptation of Bathsheba, he willfully takes her as his own and then has her husband killed in battle when he finds that she is pregnant. Why is it that a man who seemingly had it all, stooped so low and sacrificed so much just to have what his eye desired?
It seems that the more we have, the more difficult it can actually be to be grateful and content. Our hearts are always searching for the next thing to bring us satisfaction. We willingly search anywhere but God for our contentment and joy.
In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Pastor Tim Keller states, “The human heart is an idol factory that takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.”
Keller has honed in on the most important aspect of discontentment: the human heart. Let us not be confused, whether you drive the newest Audi S4 or a beat up, barely surviving junker of a car, your heart will be no happier. And this is because your ultimate happiness cannot be found and invested in those things. If your heart is not finding it’s joy and contentment in Christ, it will continue to search for something else to make it happy. You will be like King David, constantly looking for the next hit or the next high to keep you going.
Do You Know What You Have?
In this time of year, it is important to ask ourselves, am I grateful for what I have? Am I seeking to find my contentment in Christ or instead in the world around me? While we should be thankful for all that God has provided for us, often times we do this without first considering what God has saved us from. You could have all of the money in the world and be very thankful for it, but if you are separated from God then that money will continue to be an idol for you (even in you’re grateful for it!)
I would encourage you to first consider your own sinful state and what God has saved you from and to express gratefulness for that. If you have children, this is the most important place to start with them. If we cannot first recognize our need for Jesus, nothing else matters. As we cultivate a heart that is oriented to respond in love towards Christ for the love he first showed to us, we will notice that our hearts are less inclined to desire the things of this world.
In fact, not only will we desire less of this world, but when God does give us good gifts, we will actually have a desire to use those gifts to bless others. The goodness of Christ to transform our lives is a powerful thing. Often times, our hearts are so focused on what we do not have that we miss the ways that we could bless others with the spiritual and physical gifts God has given us, working in tandem, to bring hope and peace to the world around
Jesus and Peace
2000 years ago, Christ was announced by the angels as one who came in peace. This peace would require that Jesus make war with Satan. Every moment of idolatry we experience Jesus took on while in battle so that we no longer need to live as slaves to that discontentment. You have been set free to live in such a way that you can bring that same peace and hope to others.
During this Christmas season, my hope is that you and your family reflect on what it meant for Christ to come into this world and will respond in gratitude for it. May this gratitude be a waterfall of blessing to all those around you.