When we speak of whole-life generosity, we are speaking of a life overflowing with Kingdom provisions and released to God for His glory, our blessing, and the benefit of others. Whole-life generosity begins with a right relationship with God based on His unconditional love for us displayed by Christ dying for our sins and being resurrected for our salvation (Rom 4:25). Further, whole-life generosity expresses itself by living with gratitude.
How do we live a life of gratitude? Joyful gratitude begins by recognizing God’s joy over us. Jesus declared: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32). To be in God’s kingdom is to be united with God Himself. When we live in communion with our heavenly Father, His joy over us, fills us, and overflows to those around us.
Joyful gratitude grows as we trustingly walk with Christ instead of worrying about having enough for the future and genuinely grateful for God’s provision for today. Far too many people see gratitude as a transactional practice. In other words, some believe that if they show gratitude to God, then He will be obligated to bless them in the future. This is not trusting God, but attempting to manipulate God. Our gratitude ought to merely show trust and appreciation to God.
Joyful gratitude also grows when we focus on the source of our blessings rather than merely the blessings themselves. Paul writes, “A believer is to give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:20). The power of practicing gratitude is that it transforms greed into gratitude and worry into worship. It can move a heart from a desire to possess to a posture of praise. Gratitude is not to only focus on the blessings we receive from God, but to Him for being our good heavenly Father.
Paul writes to the Thessalonians: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:18). Gratitude is a spiritual discipline (or practice). When I struggled in school, my parents got me a tutor that taught me practices to help me improve. When I played sports (like football) coaches taught me practices to help me achieve a higher level of play. I was trained and equipped to live differently. Gratitude trains the believer to live differently. I have heard it said that “gratitude allows us to see the light of God in a world often filled with shadows. It trains us to recognize hope amid despair, to smile amid suffering, and to know the reality of God’s presence even when He seems distant.” Joyful gratitude continues to grow as we practice thankfulness. Thus, we learn to walk in faith.
I know some may be thinking, “What about difficulties?” James writes:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Trials are “tests” that challenge faith. When we are confronted with them, we ought to receive them with “complete joy,” not due to the hardship, but due to the opportunity for growing faith as we learn what it means to trust in the Lord. The idea behind the “testing of your faith,” is to make one’s faith genuine. The result is steadfastness, a life of faithful endurance amid troubles. Trials provide the fertile ground where faith grows and therefore ought to be received with gratitude.
Think of gratitude this way. We all realize that a car needs an engine and wheels, but it also requires a transmission that takes the power of the engine and makes it useful to move the wheels. Gratitude is the transmission that connects the engine of God’s power to the tires of our faith. Without practicing gratitude we lose sight of God, and our faith will be like a car with an engine and wheels, but no transmission. A life void of gratitude will never overflow into our world. Perhaps when we question the depth and breadth of our faith, we ought to ask if our “spiritual car” so-to-speak has the transmission of gratitude, allowing the power of God to move us forward in our walk with Him. When we choose to live with gratitude, we are able to live a life of whole-life generosity.
I am so thankful for the privilege of doing life with each of you. Let’s continue to encourage one another to live with gratitude, so that, we can live a life characterized by whole-life generosity. After all, such a life glorifies God, blesses us, and benefits others. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!