Being grateful is a mood changer. It’s been proven that increasing your gratefulness increases your happiness, but often we don’t realize how having a lack of gratefulness affects our lives. In this message, we take a look at what the Bible has to say about being grateful and how we can make it our mood.
All right, let's go! Welcome, friends in the room, friends in El Paso, Fort Worth, Phoenix, Austin, northwest Arkansas, Houston, Tulsa, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, wherever you are at listening in. We are excited to continue this series on Mood. I'm going to start with a way that is particularly relevant to the people in Dallas inside of this room. If you are listening at a later date or in from afar, just bear with us.
We have had an eventful past couple of days in Dallas, Texas. If anything has been learned, in my opinion, it is that we, as a city, are not ready for the apocalypse. It has been unreal how confronted with how dependent we are, how unprepared we are, how no one knows how to stop at a four-way stop, how much you use energy. What a reminder. If your power has been out… Anyone's power been out recently? Anyone wake up this morning and their power has been out? The rest of you guys escaped the storm. For those of us who have been, it has been like…
Dude, you are so aware when something like that happens of how dependent you are on electricity. We're all out in our cars charging our phones like a bunch of addicts. It's ridiculous. You're never confronted more with just how… Cell service. Even once you charge it, you lost service with people. And how important a microwave is or how unable most people are to drive and gas stations, of course, being out of gas, just everything you're confronted with in a moment of how challenging it is or would be if there ever was an apocalyptic situation, if you will.
The reason I start there is because in the last few days it has been such a reminder of how many things that, in my life, I take for granted, things I get so used to having. The one good thing about having them all stripped away in a moment is that you're reminded how thankful you are for those things, how thankful you are for just normal energy, how grateful you are that air conditioning is around, how grateful you are for just modern things that every day we take for granted.
Tonight, we're going to talk about a subject related to this Mood series, and it's an emotion and a mood that has a lot to do with that idea of being grateful. It's that: Grateful. Here's what I know about the room. Nobody walked in tonight and said, "You know what my biggest felt need is in here? I need to hear a message on gratefulness."
People came into the room and wanted to know about how to handle money, dating, anxiety. Maybe depression is something you're walking through, challenging times, hardship. But gratefulness? "That doesn't even feel relevant. I feel like I'm a pretty grateful person in general. I've got this. I say 'Thank you' whenever somebody does something nice for me. I'm grateful. Let's move on."
Yet the truth is that just like it was exposed by not having those things… We're reminded of how much we take things for granted, how often I fail to drive through and be like, "Thank you, Lord, that these lights work. Thank you, Lord, that electricity is flowing." In the same way, often, most of us live lives that are anything except marked by gratefulness.
The tragedy there is that gratefulness, as we're going to explore and study from God's Word, is not just a command in the Bible. In other words, you cannot follow Jesus if you do not regularly practice gratefulness, regularly express gratefulness. Gratefulness is one of those things, like we said of shame… It can be a gateway to all kinds of positive things inside of your life. Gratefulness leads to generosity. It leads to encouragement. It leads to stronger relationships, as we're going to talk about in a second.
Gratefulness is not just something the church or Christians have a corner on the market on. Secular studies have shown (here's what's crazy) that if you are grateful, if you will just include a habit of expressing things you're thankful for in life, it will transform your life. A number of studies concluded that if you will, for five minutes a day, do a daily gratitude journal…basically write out things you're thankful for…it will increase your long-term well-being by the same amount as doubling your income.
Let me say that again. If you will practice for five minutes a day, studies show… In a secular sense, non-Christian, not related to any church stuff. If people will just practice, "Here, I'm writing out the things I'm thankful for today. I'm thankful for these clothes. I'm thankful for something to eat. I'm thankful for a friend. I'm thankful for a roommate. I'm thankful for a car." If you will just do that for five minutes a day, even people outside of the church would say it will transform your life as much as doubling your income.
Here's what I know. If you make $45,000 in the room and tonight I was like, "Hey, I'm going to give you 90 grand going forward," my guess is most of us are leaving happy, if that's your place. That's exactly what these studies would say, and what God's Word would say is it's not just something that will increase and improve your life; it is a command from him, and it's a command that works for our good every time, as even people outside of the church are showing and professing.
Thanklessness, on the other hand, is one of the marks of someone who does not know God. In Romans, chapter 1, it says, "Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him." As believers, we are called to have lives that are marked by gratefulness. So, tonight, we're going to talk about three biblical components of gratefulness.
We've been in this series called Mood. What is Mood? If you're joining us for the first time, all of the messages are on the Porch app or on the podcast. You can go check those out. Mood is a look at human emotions from a biblical perspective. A lot of people think emotions are bad ("Why do I have those? I shouldn't have them at all"), and a lot of people think emotions are everything.
What does the Bible actually say as it relates to human emotions? What role should they play in our lives? We've said emotion is a gift God has given to the human race, and it's a gift particularly given in order to move us. Even the word emotion comes from the Latin word movere (to move). God gave the human race the gift of emotion to move us in a particular direction, to move us in the direction of him and in the direction of his will.
Tonight, as it relates to gratefulness, Jesus is going to say, in a very clear way, that the emotion of gratefulness should move you to a certain action. We're going to be in Luke, chapter 17. We're going to look at an interaction Jesus has with 10 gentlemen, and we will pick it up there and explore what he has to say about the subject of gratefulness. Let me start in verse 11.
"Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, 'Jesus, Master, have pity on us!'" Most likely, nobody in this room has ever had leprosy before. It's not the best of diseases to contract. Here's what's going on with leprosy.
It's a disease that plagued the ancient world. It's a disease that modern science and modern medicine has pretty much eradicated from our world, but at this time, there wasn't a solution for it. There was no medicine. There was no cure. It would show up on your body one day, and it was on your skin, and your skin would begin to erode. It would begin to make you lose sensation in all of your skin. Your nose, your ears, things would begin to fall apart, and it would spread all throughout your skin. It was highly contagious.
Here's what happened. If you were a leper, you were immediately kicked out of town. The day you realized, "There's something growing on my skin" was the worst day of your life, because it would be the last moment you would ever hug your children, you would ever sleep next to your wife or your husband. It would be the last moment you could be around society. You couldn't go to church anymore. You were a leper. Everywhere you went, you had to yell out in advance, "Unclean! Unclean!" so people knew, "Do not get near this person," to not spread the disease.
This was a group of 10 men who had been living together, because it's like, "Hey, I'm not exactly going to get into the Jerusalem apartment complex, so I have to hang out with some other boys who have the same disease as me." So they all kind of united, and together they formed some little colony, a leper colony outside in between Samaria and Galilee. They sat there, cut off from their families, cut off from friends.
One day, they hear about this man Jesus who has been showing up and apparently has been doing miracles and doing things that have been impacting, changing lives, giving sight to blind people. Then, one day, Jesus walks in front of them, so the 10 of them get together and they cry out, "Jesus! Have mercy, or have pity on us." It says… "When he [Jesus] saw them, he said, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.'"
The priests were the people who would allow… If you were a leper, and somehow miraculously it went away, you'd have to go show yourself to the priest, basically to get permission to go back in. In other words, to enter into society, if you were like, "Man, I think I've been healed of leprosy" or whatever is going on, you'd go and show yourself to a priest, and the priest would have to do the inspection. It would be like coming to church, and we have to inspect to make sure the leprosy is gone. That's what they were doing.
Jesus says, "Go show yourself." He's like, "You're going to be healed on your way to that priest." "And as they went, they were cleansed." So, they cry out to Jesus. Jesus says, "Go, show yourselves to the priests. I'm answering your prayer." They turn around and start walking toward the city of Jerusalem. They haven't been there since they got kicked out. As they're walking, their bodies begin to change, and everything transforms. They were healed of their leprosy. Verse 15:
"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?' Then he said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'"
We're going to come back to that last line. Jesus points out that despite 10 being healed, only one of them comes back. Only one had the response, in other words, that Jesus said was the right and appropriate response to be had.
1._ Gratefulness has the power to strengthen relationships_. Gratefulness, when it marks somebody's life, just like it marked this leper's life in that moment, has the power to strengthen relationships. Its presence in your relationships or in your life is going to be something that is a part of strengthening your relationship with God and your relationships with others.
This guy gives us a look at what that looks like with God. All 10 lepers had some interaction with Jesus. They had some experience and exposure to him, but all of them had only a skin-deep relationship, that he healed the outside, but this man comes back and expresses a praise and a thankfulness to God, and Jesus says something to him that he very rarely repeats all throughout the New Testament: "Your faith has saved you."
A lot of times, he says to different men and women different things. "Hey, let the dead bury the dead. Leave your father behind you," all of these things. He looks at this man and says, "Your faith has saved you." That made you well is the same word for saved. This man, because of his perspective on who Jesus was, his thankfulness, and him moving in the direction of expressing that gratefulness, experienced a relationship with Jesus different from the other nine.
Gratefulness always strengthens relationships. You having gratefulness in your life is part of the criteria that will strengthen your relationship with God or the absence of gratefulness will lead to a weakening of your relationship with God (a "weakening of your faith" would be another way of saying it) and a strengthening of your relationships with other people in your life.
How does being thankful to God strengthen your relationship with him? Well, here's how. Anytime I'm thankful to God, anytime I'm like, "Lord, I just want to thank you for this day. I want to thank you for the fact that I'm alive and another day was given me that I wasn't promised. I woke up this morning. A lot of people didn't. I have legs I can walk on. Thank you, God…"
Whenever I begin to assume, "God, thank you. Everything in my life is a gift," it's a reflection of a humility that I don't see anything I have as something I earned ("I really deserve this, and I worked really hard"), but everything has been a gift. First Corinthians 4:7 says, "What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?"
One of the things that thankfulness in a relationship with God, expressing thanks toward God, regularly does is it fights against pride and it fuels praise in my life. In other words, everything inside of my life where I'm tempted to think, "Hey, I worked really hard on that project…" Maybe it's for you. You're like, "Hey, I worked really hard. I got a promotion, I got a raise, and I deserved it. I earned it. I worked really hard. I stayed after hours. I gave all my effort to that project, and I feel like I earned it."
That's a posture that fuels pride versus a posture of "God, you're the one who gave me this job. You're the reason I got an education in the first place. You gave me a mind that works. You allowed my body to get up and have the strength to work later hours." All of a sudden, what is an opportunity for me to be tempted to have pride becomes an opportunity to turn toward praising God.
One of the ways thankfulness strengthens your relationship is in vocalizing, "God, thank you. Thank you that even though it's broken down I have a car. Thank you for another night to just come and worship you. How many people in our world would love to have the freedom to get to do that?" It keeps me in a place of humility, and instead of fueling pride it fuels praise to God. As we're told in 1 Peter 5, pride will keep you in the opposition of God.
In other words, if you see yourself as "Hey, what I have I earned and I deserve," that is pride, and that will hinder your relationship with God. It says he gives grace to the humble, but he opposes the proud. In other words, you're in the opposition of God, so of course it's going to hinder your relationship, versus a thankfulness that "God, everything I have is because of you. I don't deserve any of this. I'm going to turn everything in my life as a chance to just thank you and point it all back to you," which fuels praise.
It not only strengthens your relationship with God. It's a chance to strengthen your relationships with other people. When someone does something for you or when you do something for someone else and they don't thank you, we all notice it. When I go out of my way to plan a party or go out of my way to provide for my team or do something for my wife and nothing is said, I'm going, "Okay. Huh. When is that going to happen?"
It creates this disruption in our relationship where I'm like, "Does she think she's entitled to this? Does she deserve it? Did she even realize what I did there?" All of a sudden, what was an opportunity for us to move closer to one another together in intimacy becomes an opportunity where insecurity, entitlement, and questioning begin to breathe in.
If you want to have a stronger dating relationship, say, "Thank you." Whatever amount you think is the amount of saying "Thank you," multiply it times 10. Say, "Thank you" to your boss. If you want to excel more in your organization, say "Thank you" even to people you work with that you're like, "Well, I don't really have to say thank you to them. They get a paycheck." Say "Thank you."
If you want to be more attractive overnight… If you got hit with the ugly stick and you're wondering, "How can I look more attractive tomorrow?" (guys, this is for you; this is free) be someone who is grateful. Be someone who is thankful. "Hey, I don't deserve any of this. Thank you for giving your time. Thank you." You're not entitled to anything. You're entitled to hell. That's what the Bible says. Everything else is sprinkles on top the fact that I'm not going to hell.
I can be thankful for anything and everything. The Bible says God commands it. First Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in every situation," in everything you experience. Thankfulness will strengthen your relationship with your roommate. Say "Thank you." If they pay the bills every month and you Venmo them afterward, say, "Thank you," and pay them if you told them you were going to.
If you want to have stronger relationships, be more of God's man and God's woman, have the types of relationships that are for one another, saying "Thank you" is a path toward that, because anytime thankfulness or gratefulness is present, it strengthens relationship. And the absence is true. Anytime it's not there, it erodes or has the potential to erode relationships.
I remember not long ago, I had a friend who was getting married, and I found out what hotel he and his wife were going to stay in the night they got married. So, they got married and they were going to go to this hotel. So I called the hotel. Sometimes I'll do this for friends, and I'll just ask the hotel, "Hey, can you upgrade their room, and can you put in their room some chocolate-covered strawberries and some champagne?" or if that offends you, some grape juice, whatever the hotel offers.
Sometimes they'll do it for free; sometimes they won't. This time they didn't, and I was like, "It's all right. I'll cover it, and it'll just be a wedding gift," and gave them this whole setup. And I never heard from him. I gave the chocolate-covered strawberries and the champagne. I'm like, "Oh, that's great. They're going to go on their honeymoon. Fine. I'm sure it'll be great. I'm not doing it for the thanks. No big deal, but hopefully they got it."
You begin to wonder, "I wonder if they even got it. Maybe they sent it to the wrong room." I began to question. "Maybe they're allergic to strawberries and I just ruined their entire honeymoon they're about to be a part of. Maybe they were offended that the pastor sent the grape juice. I don't know."
Then I remember seeing him that next time and thinking, "I don't even know how to ask about this, because I want to make sure they did, but I don't want to be like, 'Well, how was the hotel room, huh? You know what I'm saying? No, I'm asking about the chocolate-covered strawberries, very literally.'" To this day, I've never, ever brought it up. Jerry, if you're listening, you know who you are. That's not true. It's not Jerry. That's a made-up name.
Point being, this opportunity that would have been something that was like, "Thank you," a strengthening of relationship, all of a sudden leads to hesitation. "I'm not sure I should have given that gift or I should in the future give that gift." Think about that. What could have been something that strengthens relationships, sets a precedent for doing it in the future, all of a sudden becomes a chance of "I'm not even sure that was worth it or that it even got delivered."
An opportunity to express appreciation led to hesitation for future times I would do it, which really leads into the second idea. This is so huge. I hope you're listening, especially for our generation.
2._ Gratefulness not expressed is gratefulness not experienced_. Pretty simple on the face, but let's talk about it for a second. What was different about this one leper? Was it that he felt grateful? My guess is that all of the other nine felt grateful. Think about it. If you've been living in a leper colony with nine other dudes, your face is falling off, and one day this guy shows up and everything changes…
You're healed. You're back to normal. You can go home. You can hug your kids. You can sleep in bed again with everybody. You can enter back into society. You can go to church again. What was the best day of your life? That day you met that man who saved you, who changed you, who healed you. My guess is that all of them felt grateful, but only one of them expressed gratefulness.
This is so true. It's so profoundly true, and I need you to hear me, because most of you are like, "Oh yeah, I get that." You don't get it. If you did, it would transform the way you interact, the number of times you're constantly saying, "I'm thankful" or "Thank you for doing that." Anytime you are thankful and do not express it… Gratitude not expressed is not experienced by the other person.
If anything, often, gratitude not expressed, just like in that scenario with the champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries… Gratitude not expressed is not just experienced as confusion; it can be experienced as rejection or "They're entitled." It's not just the absence of some nice positive "Thank you" on top. It becomes, "Man, I don't even think they cared about that." Gratitude always shows up and always speaks up. True gratitude should move you to action.
Anytime you are thankful is an opportunity that God is trying to get ahold of you to say, "Thank you," to move you in the direction of thanking God, move you in the direction of thanking other people around you. Gratitude that is felt is worthless unless it moves you to do something, whether that is praise God or thank people God has put inside of your life. I wrote in my notes that gratitude not expressed is experienced as either rejection or entitlement on behalf of the person who fails to express it.
The other interesting thing about gratefulness is that the more grateful you are, the more you express gratefulness, it's like that part of your heart continues to grow. In other words, the people who are most likely to express "Thank you" to other people around them… It's like the more you express it, the more that aspect grows inside of your heart, the more you find yourself going, "God, thank you for another day. Thank you that even though my car is broken down I have a car. Thank you that I have friends. Thank you that Uber and Lyft exist. Thank you that I have people in my life who can come pick me up. Thank you that I have a job."
The more you express gratefulness, the more that attribute grows inside of your heart, the easier it is to express. The flip side is also true. The more you complain, the easier it is to complain. As I was thinking through it, the illustration I was thinking through was this. In life, probably most of us have heard the old adage of "Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full?" Anyone heard this before?
I'm going to answer one time, definitively, for everybody if it's half empty or half full. It doesn't have anything to do with your wiring. It doesn't have anything to do with how you were raised or how you grew up or how you see the world. It has everything to do with one simple thing. Is the glass being emptied or is it being filled?
In other words, is this half empty or is it half full? Well, as it's emptying out, it would be half empty, versus as this is being filled up, it's going to be half full. Everyone following me? Does this makes sense? You guys are like, "What is going on over here with the water running?" I'm not moving on until every head in here gets it. And I see you.
Here's the deal. Is it half empty or half full? Well, it depends. If it's emptying, then it's half empty. If it's filling up, then it would be half full. It depends on what is going in it or what is coming out of it. Does that make sense? How does this have anything to do with gratefulness? Some of us inside of the room are master complainers. We have mastered the ability to complain about anything. When I say "anything," I mean anything.
You are able to drive down the road, and instead of being thankful that "Man, this road is great, and I can't believe I live in the country like this, and this is amazing," you're like, "Oh my goodness! Can everyone just drive the speed limit? Please! What are you doing?" You get here and park the car, and you're not like, "Wow! It's an amazing gathering on a Tuesday night that I get to come to. It's totally free, and I get to hang out and be around friends."
You show up and you're like, "Oh, the parking! What is wrong with this church? This is ridiculous! Where is the golf cart? One golf cart for 4,000 people? Is this a joke?" You have mastered the ability to complain about anything. I mean it. People will complain about the weather, and I hear the same thing during different seasons from the same person, where it's like, "Oh, summer. It's going to be so hot." Then winter comes around, and it's like, "Oh, I just hate the cold. I can't stand the cold." Up and down. Nothing is going to please you.
You would say, "I just wish we lived in San Diego. It would be 72 year-round." Do you know what you would do if you lived in San Diego? If you lived in San Diego, you wouldn't be happy with 72. You'd be like, "Oh, I wish we had seasons. It's got to be great to have seasons," because you have mastered the ability to complain about anything. It is an art, and many of us have conquered it.
Just like you can complain about anything, there is a way to experience praising or thanking God, being grateful about anything. The reason this illustration is relevant is just like in that scenario of complaining… How do you know if your life is half empty or half full? Every time you and I complain, it's something where it's just sucking the life out. "Oh, this is so terrible! I can't believe my job. I showed up, and they're like, 'Oh, we got new health insurance. You have to fill these forms out.' Can you believe that?" You have health insurance! That's amazing!
You show up and the food trucks… You're like, "No, the slider food trucks aren't here tonight. Unbelievable. I'm going home. This is ridiculous. I'm supposed to eat at the piggy pork thing over here?" It's true. You can complain, and you're draining your life every time you do. The flip side is also true. Here's what's crazy. You can live a life, you can be someone who's not complaining and being drained all the time, but by being grateful you will gain all the time.
In other words, you're going to come in, and you're going to be driving along the road, and you're going to be like, "Man! I'm sitting in traffic. Gosh. Lord, thank you that there are people all around me, which means there are a lot of people who need Jesus. There are a lot of men and women inside of this city, and I thank you that there's a chance that I get to be a part of connecting them to the body of Christ."
"Thank you that there are food trucks. Sliders are not here, so I get to try something new. God, I am filling it up. Thank you that somebody else called the food trucks. I don't even know how to call the food trucks, but somebody called them, and they got them here to be a part of it. Thank you that at work I have health insurance. Thank you that the weather is hot, because it reminds me to be thankful for A/C, and when it's cold outside I get to be thankful for the heat."
No matter what life throws at you, you're able to say, "I am thankful." Your life isn't drained from it, and it gains and adds to it. Study after study shows what the Bible says, which is that if you want to have joy in your life, express gratitude. In other words, it's not happy, joyful people who are thankful. Thankful people are joyful, and they're able to see in the midst of whatever life throws at them, "God is at work. I can choose to be thankful."
Or don't, and you can complain, and your life will always be half empty. Things will always be "Oh man. I'm so depressed about this." You're going to get around other people who will feed into it, and they're like, "Yeah. The sliders. I can't believe that. That was terrible." You're just going to continue to drain your life. It's funny, and I'm joking, but I couldn't be more serious. Think about how often you complain. It is sucking the life out of you.
God who's there commanded in Philippians 2:14, "Do everything without grumbling or complaining." It's the same word there. You are to do everything in life without ever complaining, which is like, "Everything, Paul? That feels a little aggressive. What about when the power is out?" Everything in life, Paul would say, without complaining.
He would say in 1 Thessalonians, what we read earlier, "Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God's will for you." What is God's will? That is crazy. That was so convicting to me as, candidly, somebody who was so frustrated by all of the different things from the past two days. I wonder about God's will for my life and where he wants me and what the future holds for us, and then you read verses like this, and it's like, "Oh, this is God's will: be thankful in every circumstance."
He doesn't say, "Be thankful for every circumstance," but he says you can choose to be thankful in every circumstance, in the midst of whatever you're walking through, if you are a follower of Jesus. Whatever you're walking through, you can be thankful, knowing God has promised to work everything together for your good. Whatever you're facing, he's more than enough to get you through. There's a list of things. In the midst of whatever you're walking through, whatever you're facing, you can be thankful, Paul would say, and you are commanded.
So, here's what we're going to do. We're going to practice this really quickly. Everyone take out their phone. On your phone, hopefully, you have text messaging and hopefully it works. We're going to right now take a chance. I want everyone to text someone and say, "Thank you" for something. We're just going to do it right now. We're all going to try it together.
Some of you maybe have never done this before, so let me try it, and let me get you a head start on it. I'm going to give you the first three words, and you've got it from there. "Thank you for…" Don't text the person right next to you. Just turn to them and say, "Thank you for…" If you get a text message from somebody right next to you, I need you to raise your hand, because we're putting their head under the bucket. We're all going to… I mean it. Right now. I'm going to do it right now.
I did mine. This shouldn't take too much longer, unless you're that novel person. We all have that person in our lives. All right. That's it. Now here's the next thing. I want to give you a chance to do that and express to God. There are a billion things we should be thankful for that we take for granted. So, right now, let's just pray. Wherever you're at right now, just pray, "Thank you, God, for [X]."
Amen. If you're here tonight and you're here for the first time, we do this every week… No, that's not true. The point of that practice is just to begin. If you and I will begin to take those steps, gratefulness is this contagious thing. It grows and grows and grows inside of your heart, and the opposite is true. Discontentment, complaining, envy… Those things will grow, and you can combat them. There are a lot of positive moods and a lot of negative moods.
Gratefulness is one of those moods that can pull you out of some of the negative moods. God created it that way. He created you to praise him and to thank others, to live in that relationship with him and relationship with others. The final component of having gratefulness mark your life is looking at the origin of where gratefulness comes from.
3._ Gratefulness flows from the right perspective. I mentioned this earlier. What did Jesus do for this man that he didn't do for the other nine? Like we said earlier, he looks at him and says, "Your faith has made you well." What a weird sentence. What are you saying there, Jesus? "Your faith has made you well." What about the other nine? Did their faith make _them well? Clearly, there's something different that happened here, like we said.
In a moment of clarity, this man had the right perspective on who Jesus was, and it says he threw himself at Jesus' feet and began to praise God. He saw this man as the Savior that he was. He had the right perspective, and it fueled a gratefulness in his life. If you're going to have not a momentary, fleeting kind of, "Thank you, Lord, for this day and for this food, and bless us, amen," but if you're going to have a gratefulness that really marks your life, continually, no matter what you face in every circumstance, it's going to flow from the right perspective.
What is the right perspective? It's a perspective that comes from having the right perspective or way that you see Jesus and the way you see this life and the way you see eternity. I'll explain what I mean, but let me give you an example of a guy who had the right perspective. The way he saw our world because of who he saw Jesus was and who Jesus was to him transformed the way he thought about his time, about his life, about his stuff.
It's a guy named Matthew Henry. He was a famous theologian from the 1600s. He lived in England. He was basically a well-known celebrity. Think Billy Graham of the 1600s in England. He had just finished work one day, and on his way home from work he gets robbed by a bunch of people. They take everything he has. He goes home, and he journals out and begins to thank God. You're like, "What are you thanking God for after you just got robbed and they took all of your money?"
Here's what he says: "I thank you, God, that I have never been robbed before. Thank you that although they took my wallet, they didn't take my life. Thank you that although they took all that I had, all that I had was not very much. Thank you that it was I who was robbed and not I who did the robbing." Matthew Henry's right perspective allowed him even in the midst of getting robbed… "I can name four things right off the bat I'm thankful for." How crazy is that?
Well, it's only crazy if you don't see it through the perspective Matthew Henry saw it through, the perspective that "Jesus is the Savior of my life, which means everything I've ever done inside of this life has been paid for on the cross. He took my place so I wouldn't have to go to hell, so now I get to spend whatever time I have left on this earth trying to make him as famous as possible and reach as many lost people as possible for the name of Jesus so they don't have to go to hell either." That right perspective.
Think about the power of just the fact that if you're a Christian you don't have to go to hell. That should be enough. I'm embarrassed to even be like, "That should be enough," as though we even need to be reminded of that, but I know I do. If God never did another thing for the rest of my life, that should be enough, that I don't have to go to hell forever and ever and ever and ever.
Think about it. If you're a Christian in the room, I want you to think about something with me. Imagine you didn't know Jesus and it's true; there's a hell, and anyone who has not put their faith in Jesus and what he did on the cross as the payment for their sin and rising from the dead showing that payment cleared, the check cleared, the credit card went through… That's what Jesus showed when he rose from the dead.
There's a hell, and anyone who doesn't have a relationship with him is going there. Think about it. Think about where you would be if you didn't have that relationship. Think about hell. I know that's a bizarre thing to think about. Spending eternity away from the living God, having no relationships around you, in eternal torment. Maybe it has been so long you were a kid when you got saved. Think about that. That's what you deserve. That's what I deserve.
It's what every person who's alive on this planet deserves by sinning against a perfect, holy God and choosing to be their own god, and apart from God stepping into your life and dropping the veil from your eyes and allowing you to see Jesus… Because if you are a follower of Jesus, it's not because you chose him; he chose you. Think about that. How could we not be the most grateful people on the planet?
If you don't ever get married, if you're out there and you're like, "Oh man! I'm still single. I'm just so frustrated by that," and it's draining your life, the God who's there has saved you. If you're a Christian, you're not going to spend eternity apart from him. Everything else is just sprinkles on top. The God who's there is saying, "This is the right perspective to have," and if you don't have it, and in the moments I don't have it, or if I don't have it, I'm living less than in line with the will of God for my life.
This life is a vapor, the Scripture says. Whatever expectations, whatever frustrations, whatever things in your life you're just so upset about and you complain about (and we all have them), God would say when you can see it from an eternal, right perspective, those things will fade away. The moment you begin to see it like Matthew Henry saw it, like Jesus calls us to see it, with a right perspective, it fuels gratefulness.
"Everything I have is a gift. I get another day? What? I get another chance to have relationships with friends? Yeah, I'm single, but that means I'm still alive and I still have time to mingle. I'm going to be here, and I'm going to have relationships around me. Maybe there's still hope." Everything I have, there's a chance I can turn it around. There's a chance that I can see that God is at work in all of it, even the worst of circumstances.
Scripture says he has promised, if you are a believer… Listen to me very closely, because some of you who are listening right now wherever you're at, listening online or listening in this room, you are wondering, "How can God make cancer make sense? How can God make the most painful of circumstances make sense?"
I'm not going to pretend like I know all of the answers and know everything you're walking through and could give you like, "Here's exactly what's going on there," because I don't know, but I know he has promised that everything you face, everything you experience, "I will use for your good." Someday, you're going to stand before God, and you're going to get to see how everything that was so broken in this world he was using to bring together for good.
So, in the midst of the worst circumstances we can thank God and say, "Thank you, God, that even though this is not what I would choose, it's not what I would want, you are going to use it for good. Though I can't see it now, I'll see it someday, and I'm going to trust you until then. Will you help me thank you? Help me to see it clearly, see you clearly, see the gifts that are all around me that I do not deserve."
If you're in the room and you have never trusted in Jesus, here's what you need to know: no amount of thankfulness you express is going to change your life in the most important way that is possible. Every expression of thanks… You can apply it and it will probably make your life better, but you're still going to hell. The God who's there is crazy about you. He loves you. He gave his life for you. He gave his life for anyone who would simply receive the free gift.
How do you become a Christian? How do you have eternal life? Let me make it really clear in case you've been tuning out and counting these wood things, like, "How did they get those up there?" In case you're not zoning in, take it right here. You put your faith or your trust in Jesus' work on the cross. "You died in my place. You rose in my place. You gave your life so I didn't have to give my life for all of eternity. You gave your eternal life, Jesus, so I don't have to give all of my eternity away apart from you. I will not trust in how good of a person I am."
The Bible does not say, "Whosoever behaves shall not perish but have eternal life." It says, "Whosever believes," whoever trusts in Jesus, whoever says, "I'm not getting into heaven because I went to church enough." That's a lie. Whoever says, "I am only going to be granted access with the one God who's there because of Jesus, because he opened the door. He called himself the door. He died in my place, and I have so much to be thankful for, because I don't deserve it, I didn't earn it, yet Jesus stepped in and allowed me to have eternal life." That's what it means to be a Christian.
If you're in the room, maybe you haven't walked in your faith for a while. Maybe it's the first time back in church or ever. If you have never accepted that free gift, you're not a Christian. I don't know how to encourage you to be grateful in this life, because this world is as good as it's ever going to get for you, and then off to eternity forever and ever and ever apart from the one true God who's crazy in love with you.
You look at your life like I look at mine, and you're like, "Gosh, could anyone love me?" and the God who's there is crazy in love with you. The lie you're going to be tempted every day to believe, and have been tempted every day to believe, is that he doesn't love you. He has already proven emphatically that he does by giving his life on your behalf. It's the moment you say, "It's not good people in heaven, bad people in hell." Forgiven people go to heaven, and the only way to get that is by saying, "Jesus, your payment was enough. You paid for everything I did. I don't deserve it. You paid for it, and I'm so grateful." Let me pray.
Father, I pray that anyone in this room who has never had a moment of faith where they accepted that free gift, right now where they're sitting, would accept the free gift you offered when you gave your life on their behalf. That payment was more than enough, and it went through, and the curse broke. Since that moment, everything has begun to change. Many of us have begun to change, and our world as it is will change.
I pray that right now anyone who currently is trusting in how good of a person they are or if they think you wouldn't love them because of how bad of a person they've been, your Spirit would do what only it can do: convince them that is a lie and you've already paid the way. You've opened the door for anyone who will simply walk through it. We are grateful, God.
At the end of the day, we are unworthy servants. We are unworthy of the gift you've offered. So right now, Lord, as we sing this song, would you in our hearts, in my heart…start with me first…kindle a gratefulness that continually sees every moment I have as a gift, God. Everything in front of me is a gift that I didn't earn and I don't deserve. We worship you in song now, amen.