Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Attitude of Gratitude

Recently, I came across an interesting and hilarious article entitled, “Dog vs. Cat: War of the Dairies.” First, let’s take a peek at the dog’s diary. 8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite! 9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite! 10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite! 12:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite! 5:00 pm - Dinner! My favorite!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite! 8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite! 10:00 pm – Sleeping at the foot of my master’s bed! My favorite!  

And now an excerpt from dairy of a cat: “Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.”

Two totally different perspectives of living under the roof of the same master. One grateful, the other grumpy; one contented, the other conniving. Which attitude best describes your heart today? What was the main difference? I would submit to you that it was the elusive trait of thanksgiving. Yet, when we examine God’s family, we too can see the same dichotomy. Believers under the rule of the same benevolent Master, and some are thankful while others are perpetually negative.

Jesus witnessed the same thing one day on the road between Samaria and Galilee, when he was approached by ten lepers. Imagine this huddle of half-draped faces and broken bodies before Him. Their gruesome appearance and gnarled digitals repulsed everyone. Society quarantined them. Yet, Jesus had compassion on them. He spoke the word and healed all ten of them. Then Luke records what happened next:

“And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:14-18)

Don’t miss the headline of the story. Jesus notices and delights in a grateful heart. In fact, He was stunned by the ingratitude of the other nine. We also learn that thankfulness in a choice. It’s a decision that we make each day to either focus on what we don’t have or acknowledge that great blessings we have already been given.

As Max Lucado has written, “The grateful heart is like a magnet sweeping over the day, collecting reasons for gratitude. A zillion diamonds sparkle against the velvet of your sky every night. Thank you, God. A miracle of muscles enables your eyes to read these words and your brain to process them. Thank you, God. Your lungs inhale and exhale eleven thousand liters of air every day. Your heart will beat about three billion times in your lifetime. Your brain is a veritable electric generator of power. Thank you, God. For the jam on our toast and the milk on our cereal. For the blanket that calms us and the joke that delights us and the warm sun that reminds us of God’s love. For the thousands of planes that did not crash today. Thank you, God.”[1]    
To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to turn your gaze heaven-ward and off the trifles of this world. Gratitude is a choice.  A hard-fought, grace-infused, biblical lifestyle.  And though there’s a sense in which anyone can be thankful for God has extended His common grace to all, and his abundant sin-forgiving grace to His children. -DM  

[1] Max Lucado, “An Attitude of Gratitude,” 8 October 2013 <http://www.faithgateway.com/attitude-gratitude/#.VkIN5PmrSM8> 

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