We make the decision to love. While emotion might make the choice to love easier, we still decide whether or not we will love our pets, our neighbors, our friends, and our family.
Love is also a gift.
The reason we have the capacity to love is because God first loved us. The reality is that our lives are products of God’s love. If God did not love us, we would not exist. It is God’s love that is behind every gift and blessing that we enjoy.
Even before we became Christians, God’s love was freely given to us. The Bible teaches us that while we were God’s enemies He showed love to us through Jesus. It is the gift of Jesus that made reconciliation with God possible.
God's amazing love is cause for thanksgiving!
Erwin McManus wrote:
“It is gratitude that nurtures wholeness and expresses itself as generosity in the end. Gratitude is the pathway of love. It unleashes the healing power of love. It increases our capacity to experience love and give it.” (Uprising; p. 114)
Gratitude is an essential part of learning to be people of love. The thankfulness we experience because of God's love compels us to love those around us.
While we know we should be grateful for God's love, the reality is that we don't always feel grateful.
The problem is that we haven't connected the blessings in our lives to God. We have grown so use to good health, a roof over our heads, and food in the refrigerator that we forget God's hand in this blessings.
Not only that, as time goes on, the feeling of gratitude that we had when we first became Christians begins to fade. The great gift of salvation looses its shine in our eyes. Instead of thanking God for Jesus, we begin to act like it was no big deal.
How do we show our gratitude for the love God has given us?
I believe the first step in being grateful is to be humble.
How do we become humble? We take time to evaluate our lives. The apostle Paul wrote, "As God’s messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you" (Romans 12:3; NLT). This step reminds us of who we are the struggles we have without Jesus. It leads us to the place of humility. Without humility we believe that we deserve the gifts given to us. Only the humble see the blessings of God as the gifts they are and therefore respond in gratitude.
I believe the next step in showing gratitude is to be a steward.
When we use the gifts, talents, and resources God has given to us, our eyes are opened to the work He is doing in and through us. In 1 Peter we read, "God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you" (1 Peter 4:10; NLT). By using our blessings we show our appreciation for what we have, and we allow ourselves to be a blessing to someone else.
The third step in having a grateful life is to be a lover.
Remember love is a choice. God's love for us opens up the possibility for us to be people of love. This is where our knowledge comes in above our feelings. We may not always feel grateful, but because we know God has blessed us, we choose to love: to love Him and to love others. Paul wrote, "Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like a sweet perfume to him" (Ephesians 5:1,2; NLT). A life of love is a life lived in obedience to God’s will. A grateful persons seeks to please the One who has blessed him.
God has given us the gift of love.
Too often we treat that love as if it is something that we deserve, rather than an undeserved blessing given by a good God.
In order to be grateful we need to be humble, we need to be stewards, and we need to be lovers. This is how we express our thanksgiving to God for His gift of love.