Hebrews 10: 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Thank you! Just two small words, eight letters, but they can carry with them tremendous power. If genuine, they are the indicators of a grateful person. How often do you use those words? I’m not talking about just acknowledging someone for holding a door open for you, rather taking the time to consider the people who have, or who continue to bless you. Perhaps it is thanking those who just keep showing up, not with great fanfare, but they just keep doing what they need to do, and you have been the beneficiary.
Dr. Robert A. Emmons (UCal Davis) and Dr. Michael E. McCullough (UMiami) research gratitude. In a study they divided participants into three groups: one group wrote about things they were grateful for, the second wrote about their irritations, and the third wrote about things that affected them (either positively or negatively). After 10 weeks, they found that group one, who focussed on gratitude, were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Interestingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to the physician than those who focussed on the sources of their aggravation.
While being grateful may come easier to some, the experts agree that it is, by in large, a decision. In the above study, the decision was made for them, but each person has the opportunity to write about, or concentrate on, what they are grateful for. These decisions should turn into habits. Brian Smith wrote an Athletes In Action article entitled: “7 Habits of a Grateful Athlete”. Smith writes that grateful athletes: 1) take time to soak in the moment; 2) recognize people who go unnoticed; 3) fight against entitlement; 4) are coachable; 5) look for silver linings; 6) their joy is not conditional; 7) recognize excellence in their opponent.
As I peered into my concordance, I saw that there are nearly two hundred uses of the various forms of “thanks” in the Bible. Being grateful is much more than a trendy fad; it demonstrates the heart of God. We are born with a need to appreciate, but also to be appreciated. Even Jesus showed a desire to be genuinely appreciated. When Jesus came across ten lepers who needed healing (Luke 17:13), they all asked to be healed, and were. However only one returned to say thank you (Luke 17:15-16). “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17) Jesus did not heal them to get a thank-you, but Jesus was demonstrating the principle that it is right and good to be thankful; it is beneficial to the recipient of the “thanks”, but also for the giver. Paul encouraged the people in the Hebrew church by saying: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25a).
Who can you encourage today with a thank-you, or a grateful comment or message? Perhaps there is someone in your life who has just quietly gone about their business and blessed you, but you have rarely shared genuine appreciation. Perhaps it’s a coach, a friend, a parent; or perhaps it’s the custodian at school who has simply kept the gym clean. Decide today to be the grateful leper who chose to live a life of gratitude. Start behaviors which will turn into the habits of a grateful athlete, a grateful person.