Sincere gratitude. On the surface, we may tell ourselves, “Of course I’m grateful!” We may even be quite polite by saying “thank you” in necessary circumstances. But I know when I take a deep look within myself to search for the kind of gratitude that breathes hope and joy into life, I see I have work to do. Sometimes words only live on the surface. Sometimes they don’t reach the depths of our hearts, souls, and minds.
Sincere Gratitude: Surface Level or Soul Level?
So, I reflect. Is my gratitude surface-level? Or does it reach my heart, or more importantly, my soul? If it is reaching my soul, my actions and my attitude should reflect that of living with sincere gratitude. The fruit of my life should demonstrate sincere gratitude. My worldview should filter through that of gratitude. My ability to cheer others forward and steer away from comparison should strengthen. And finally, my endurance for facing challenges should strengthen, my hope increase, and my faith deepens.
We also have the challenge of our fickle hearts. Emotions and feelings rise and fall with each wave that washes our way. With them, a heart of sincere gratitude has the potential to go. When the waves are all about the good things in life, it’s easier to be filled with sincere thanks and gratitude. But it’s not as easy when the waves are dangerous and dark.
So how do we nourish a heart of sincere gratitude?
When we put the definitions of “sincere” and “gratitude” together, we find that sincere gratitude is feeling or being grateful in a heartfelt manner. It’s a murky area because of the fickle nature of our feelings. We need something to keep it steady. Something that relies upon more than feelings and emotions that ebb and flow.
This leads us to God because He does not change. He is steady when the world is not. We can depend upon His faithfulness. So, let’s look at what God intended for gratitude and what science has since proven.
An Overview of Biblical Gratitude
1. “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” -Genesis 12:12 ESV
Sincere gratitude is an action. It’s showing grace and generosity to ourselves and others. A grace and generosity that overflows from the gratitude within us for all God has done in our lives.
My two favorite phrases are: “But God” and “So that.”
God takes our broken messes and does more than we can imagine with them. He redeems and sharpens us. He builds something new and beautiful out of all the broken pieces. It’s God’s “But God” story. To the human eye it looks like all is lost …But God.
Then, out of gratitude for His beautiful “But God” blessing in our lives, we bless others. We live out Genesis 12:12. God blesses us so that we bless others.
2. “Come with great power, O God, and rescue me. Defend me with your might. Listen to my prayer, O God. Pay attention to my plea. For strangers are attacking me; violent people are trying to kill me. They care nothing for God. Interlude
But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive! May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them. Do as you promised and put an end to them.
I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good. For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me to triumph over my enemies.” -Psalms 54:1-7 NLT
Science shows that people with positive attitudes live healthier lives. They handle the storms and negativity of life better. Science also shows that gratitude is a key component of that positive attitude. And long before science proved anything, God showed us through His Word that gratitude is key to Christian living. The Book of Psalms and King David are prime examples of that. We find King David lamenting (crying out in frustration and/or pain). We find him angry at times and destitute at others. But he always comes back to what is good and true in his life. He comes back to his faith in a good God, and he praises God for all the good He has done and will do in the future. Then David picks himself back up and moves forward. He doesn’t stay stuck in the past or bogged down with bitterness or negativity.
3. “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” -Colossians 2:6-7 NLT
When our faith is strongly rooted, it will overflow with thankfulness. Just as a tree that is deeply rooted in the earth withstands storms, so will we withstand the storms of our lives. Thankfulness and gratitude will not be washed away when our faith is deeply rooted.
10 Ways to Nourish a Heart of Sincere Gratitude
1. “Girl, read your Bible!”
Alisha Illian’s quote from her book, Chasing Perfect, is unequivocally true. I wrote about it more in this Instagram post where I discuss how God provides the guide and wisdom we can count on in this very fickle world in which we live. The post seemed to deeply resonate with readers so it might resonate with you, as well. Knowing who God is, what He says about you, His unconditional love for you, His promises, His wisdom, and what He tells you about praise and gratitude is critical to living a victorious Christian life. I share more Bible verses about gratitude here.
2. Establish a rhythm of life that places gratitude as a priority.
“Rhythm functions as the propulsive engine of a piece of music, and it gives a composition structure.” (Understanding Rhythm by Masterclass) Just as in music, we need structure and functions to propel us into our best, most beautiful version of life. That structure and those functions may be something as simple as thanking the Lord for the day ahead before we step out of bed each morning. It might be daily journaling and prayer times. Or it may be daily habits of praying for the car driving in front of you on a daily commute, for the customer you great each day, or the barista at the coffee shop. Your rhythm will depend on your schedule. But creating it is key to nurturing a heart filled with sincere gratitude.
3. Make a point of including acts of gratitude in your daily life.
In my 21-Day Biblical Gratitude Challenge, I include a daily act of gratitude. The options range from footing the bill for the person behind you in line to a no-complaining day to everything in between! A sincere heart of gratitude shows up in how we act. Our heart isn’t changed until we act out of the fullness of that heart.
4. Keep a Gratitude Jar or Gratitude Journal.
When my kids were younger, I kept a Gratitude Jar. It was in response to a lot of whining and ungracious behavior toward each other. It made a huge difference (and should be something I recreate for them today!) Purposely noting the who and what we are grateful for and why we are grateful, trains our minds to think positively.
5. Have a community of people around you who will hold you accountable and refresh your spirit.
We are called to be a light in the darkness. But we are also called to be in community with those who will help us grow in our faith walk. Finding a balance can be challenging.
6. Do an annual or bi-annual Gratitude Challenge.
I created the 21-Day Biblical Gratitude Challenge for just this reason. It will help you re-establish habits of gratitude by focusing on the Word of God, daily journaling, and acts of gratitude.
7. Get in the habit of remembering.
The Hebrew word, Zakhar, means “to remember.” In the Hebrew culture remembering is actually considered a forward-moving practice. Kristi McLelland writes in Jesus & Women, “If you come to a pace or a time when you aren’t sure where to go or what to do next, pause and look back. Remember how the Lord met you, directed you, and provided for you in those past times.” Sincere gratitude for all God has done saturates our hearts when we remember how He once provided and will continue to provide.
Pray for your life and the lives of others. Praise God. Thank Him. Be persistent. Don’t lose heart. Keep knocking and God will answer. As we pray without ceasing, our spirits transform. The weight of the world lifts and sincere gratitude fills those empty places.
9. Be willing to be open.
Open your heart, your smile, and your graciousness to others. You never know what it may lead to.
Blessing requires forgiveness. God tells us forgiveness obstructs our healing. It allows the enemy to wreak havoc in our hearts and in our lives. If we do not forgive, a root of bitterness grows within us and where bitterness takes up space, gratitude cannot grow. Where gratitude does not exist, there is no hope, joy, or peace.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” -Colossians 3:13 NLT
Christ nourishes a heart of sincere gratitude. It’s a gratitude living in those who stare at God but only glance at their problems long enough to learn as they move forward. It’s in the one who is deeply rooted in their faith because the storms of life have only made them stronger. Friend, a heart of sincere gratitude is available for you so that you may honor God and live your best life now while you wait for the day you get to meet Jesus face to face.
If you are interested in completing my 21-Day Biblical Gratitude Challenge, read more or sign up below!
What Is Included in the Free 21-Day Biblical Gratitude Challenge?
- A Bible verse for every day that deepens your understanding of God’s message of gratitude and inspires you to be grateful for the big and little things in your life.
- Each daily Bible verse in Printable Scripture Card format.
- A Gratitude Action Chart so that you can put your words and thoughts to action for 21 Days.
- Journal pages for reflection and prayer.
- Weekly devotions sent straight to your inbox for the duration of the challenge.