Neither a birthday nor a holiday passed without my mom issuing me the familiar reminder to write thank-you notes. She had a drawer full of stationery and, the day after my birthday, would plop a stack of cards on the kitchen table with the directive: “Get these done before next week.” I grew up writing thank-you notes because it was the courteous thing to do, but the practice of saying thank you goes deeper than paper and pen. Here are a few reasons why thanking people is important.
1. Gratitude improves relationships.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
A simple “thanks,” whether aloud or in a note, improves our relationships by adding value to those we love. Being thankful for the actions of our friends and family shows our appreciation for who they are. Sincere gratitude tells others that we both need and want them, two innate desires of the human soul. This, in turn, lays a foundation of trust, which is the groundwork of every good relationship.
2. Gratitude cultivates contentment.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
We cannot be simultaneously discontent and grateful. Contentment and gratitude walk hand in hand; in order to be content, we must see our circumstances as a gift from God for this season of life. We must be thankful for where we are and what we have, even as we hope for something more down the road.
If you struggle to be content, begin by counting the blessings God has given you. Be honest with yourself about the things you take for granted—things other people may be waiting to receive! We often become so consumed with what we don’t have that we miss out on all the things God has graced us to possess. Grateful women take hold of their present situation and embrace it as God’s calling, thankful for one more day to honor Him.
3. Gratitude reveals a heart that loves God.
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God! (Psalm 50:23)
When we love God, we can’t help but celebrate His good gifts to us. This love isn’t a feeling, though. It’s a daily choice to choose God above all else, to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37). As we make this choice, our minds are bent in the direction of gratitude. We begin to look for opportunities to thank the Lord for His role in our lives. We become more grateful in our relationships with others, and saying “thank you” doesn’t take much thought. A thankful heart produces a thankful outlook!
Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday; it’s a lifestyle. It’s more than writing thank-you notes (though I still encourage that practice!). Saying “thank you” in daily life is a spiritual discipline of gratitude, one we practice with family, friends and, most of all, with the Lord.
How do you make a practice of gratitude in your daily life?