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Gratitude Makes Us More Like Jesus

God does not NEED our gratitude, but He wants our gratitude, which we express as worship. Why? Does anything we have to give enrich God? If we give him our money, his wealth does not increase—He owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.” (See Psalm 50:10.) If we give Him our strength, He is no stronger—He already upholds the Universe “by the word of His power.” (See Hebrews 1:3.) God does not learn anything if we give Him our knowledge—He “knows all things” (See 1 John 3:20.); “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).

God does not need our gratitude, our worship, our love; but when we are thankful, when we worship Him, we are enriched. We receive His love and give it back; in so loving, we become more like Him. Gratitude changes us! And gratitude attracts others to Him.

When we worship Jesus Christ, living lives that express our gratitude for Him, bringing our worship not only into the church but also into our everyday interactions, we become more and more Christlike. We shine with the personality of Jesus Christ!

We become like what we worship.

We all worship something. If we worship money, we hoard it, spend it on our pleasures, and become as lifeless as the bills we clutch. If we worship a substance, take alcohol for instance, over time our physical, spiritual, emotional, and relational health wastes away—we become as empty as the bottle itself. If we worship the elusive high of success, the joy flies away when someone even more successful outdoes our achievement (records are for breaking; if we depend on our successes to prop us up, we eventually become broken). If we worship our own beauty, we become ugly on the inside even before the beauty on the outside begins to fade.

As Pastor Adrian Rogers put it, “the man molds the idol, and then the idol molds the man.”

That is why the Bible says to worship the Lord your God and serve Him only. (See Luke 4:8 and Deuteronomy 6:13.) We become like what we worship!

Worship extends to all of life.

Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:17 continues, And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Those two verses, Pastor Rogers noted, have the conjunction “and” in the middle. Verse 16 may look like church on Sunday—teaching, admonishing, singing praises—but verse 17 makes it clear that worship includes “whatsoever” you do—every deed, all day, every day. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

What is worship? Worship is doing everything in the name of Jesus and giving God thanks for it.

For more about how to worship God through gratitude, read the article, “Living Like Jesus Through Grateful Worship."

Be Grateful for the Holy Spirit

As part of a worshipful way of life, one of the things believers should do continually is to thank God for His Holy Spirit. There are three truths we would never be able to understand apart from the Holy Spirit. These truths are basic to the Christian life. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told his followers He would send the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin, righteousness, and judgment (see John 16:8).

One, only the Holy Spirit of God convicts people that the greatest sin is unbelief in Jesus Christ. Two, only the Holy Spirit teaches us that we must rely on Jesus’ righteousness and not our own. As Adrian Rogers put it, “Only the Holy Spirit of God can convict you that you do not have half a hallelujah of a chance to go to Heaven apart from the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And here’s the third truth that you’ll never understand apart from the Holy Spirit: the truth about Satan’s broken power.” Satan faces judgment; believers do not face judgment because of the person and work of Jesus Christ, who removed sin “as far as the east is from the west” (see Psalm 103:12).

Because of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us and residency in us, Satan’s power in our lives is broken forever. As we assimilate that truth and live by it, we are progressively better able to resist temptation.

Want to be more grateful for God’s Holy Spirit? Read the article, “Thank God for His Holy Spirit.” 

Be Grateful in the Valley

All people—believers and unbelievers alike—walk through valleys. And while it seems counterintuitive, our most difficult days, when spent close to the Savior’s side, are often remembered as some of the most beautiful. The key is to thank God for our trials—this is faith-building gratitude.

Ephesians 5:20 commands us to give thanks “always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Pastor Rogers noted, “If it said, give thanks always for some things, we could do that, but that isn’t what it says. It says, “…for all things.”

Pastor Rogers said there are four levels of gratitude. The lowest level is continuously grumbling and complaining—no gratitude whatsoever—“They ought to lock those people up in a room and just let them grumble and complain to one another.” The next level is made up of people who don’t grumble, but neither do they thank God for anything. They are not worshiping God in the least. Level three is made up of people who “do thank God but they thank God for the obvious blessings of life—for food, for health, for friends, for family, for joy, for victory, for the church, for the Bible, for all of the good things that God has given to us. Well, that’s wonderful, but that’s still not the highest level.”

The highest level, and the one that builds our faith and makes us more like Jesus, is thanking God for all things, just as Scripture directs. We do not do this because all things are good, Pastor Rogers said. “No, friend, all things are not good and for me to pretend that all things are good would mock God and us. Murder is not good, rape is not good, cancer is not good, heartache is not good, divorce is not good, and abandoning children is not good. No!”

We give thanks because God is good, because He always has our good in mind and can take even the most tragic circumstance and bring good from it.

The Rainbow of Hope

“Now what I want to show you from the Bible is how to place an arch, the rainbow of hope, over all of your sorrows,” Pastor Rogers said. “That rainbow of hope is Romans 8:28, which says, ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.’ It does not say all things are good. All things are not good, we’ve already settled that, and God is not the author of evil. But God is sovereign, and God is good, and God takes all things—good, bad, or indifferent, and puts these in the crucible of His love and causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.”

Jesus Christ Himself took this attitude to the cross. Facing the most unimaginable evil of all time, He steeled Himself to endure “for the joy set before Him.” (See Hebrews 12:2.) There can be no greater example than this that gratitude—even for our deepest heartaches and greatest trials—makes us more like Jesus!

For more about gratitude during trials, read the article, “Thanking God for Everything."