Sermon from the archives – An attitude of gratitude (sermons from College Chapel)
An attitude of Gratitude
Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
Psalm 32: 1-11
Text: Be thankful in all circumstances
In his book FOLK PSALMS OF FAITH, Ray Stedman tells of an experience H.A. Ironside had in a crowded restaurant.
(Henry Ironside, as a matter of interest, was a famous American preacher who is buried in Auckland.)
Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited his to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, “Do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No, I don’t.” The other man asked, “Well, is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.”
The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!”
Ironside said, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!”
(Ray Stedman, Folk Psalms of Faith.)
It’s a great thing when people thank you for something. Even a simple thing that you do every day – it’s good to hear a word of thanks.
- Mothers love it – after a good meal.
- Friends like to be appreciated too.
- When someone leaves a school – or an organization – a public word of thanks is always appreciated.
- So too when a job is well done – when a team works hard! We all need affirmation and thanks.
Christians have a special way of dealing with this, though.
It’s called an attitude of gratitude.
It’s a way of living – of remembering that everything we have and enjoy is a gift from God.
Paul makes it clear in our reading today that we are to have a different attitude:
1. Be joyful always – not happy, but joyful! God gives us a joy that is there even when things are tough
2. Pray at all times – talk to God. Tell him how you feel.
3. Be thankful in all circumstances.
Every time we meet for worship we need to give thanks to God for everything. There should never be a silent time during prayers of thanksgiving. Not even a hesitation!
The simple things of life are a great place to start:
- daily food, knowing that there are children who have no food to eat each day – millions of them
- shelter, knowing that there are people in other nations of the world who live and die on the streets
- a great school to learn in, knowing that there are those in other continents who have school lessons under trees each day
- good health, remembering those who are fighting for physical survival
- families and friends, remembering those who are alone and afraid each day.
It’s an attitude of gratitude.
It stops us from silly complaints and moaning about things that are actually not that serious really.
Like a little child with cancer. One woman wrote this:
An estimated 1.5 million people are living today after bouts with breast cancer. Every time I forget to feel grateful to be among them, I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christina, who had cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finally said, “I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!” The kid is right.
(Erma Bombeck, Redbook, October,1992.)
On a lighter note, one learns to pray and be thankful, like the story of two men who were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence. The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it.
Terrified, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!”
John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.”
“But you must!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.”
“All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ‘O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.'”
An attitude of Gratitude will make us much better people to live with at home, and to be with at school or at our place of work.
Remember to give thanks to God!