"Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
- Ephesians 5:20 NLT
When my husband, Joe, got his annual bonus at the end of last year, it was much smaller than what we had anticipated and hoped for. We had been counting on that money to help us pay off some of our mounting debt, and I confess that our not being able to do that caused me great disappointment. I thanked God for the bonus, but the truth was that I felt very little gratitude in my heart. Sometime later, the Lord dealt with me about my unthankful attitude, and He revealed to me the rewards that I had forfeited because of my disobedience.
In Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John, Jesus was on a mountaintop with His disciples where a great crowd gathered to hear the Word of God. When Jesus “tested” His disciples by asking them where they could buy food for the 5,000-plus people, Philip said, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (John 6:5-7) Andrew spoke up and said, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (v.8-9) Look carefully at what the Scripture says next: “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (v.11) I had read these verses many times before, but this time, the Holy Spirit had me focus on the fact that Jesus gave thanks for the meager supply of food, and the result was an increase of provision for His people. In fact, the Scripture reveals that there were actually twelve baskets of leftovers collected after everyone ate. (v.13) The Lord spoke to my heart and told me that because I did not have a grateful attitude when my husband got his small bonus, I missed an opportunity to see Him work wonders in stretching our finances to abundantly provide for our needs.
When the apostle Paul talks about “the last days” and the despicable sins that will be rampant among mankind, he lists people who are “unthankful”. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV) Why is ingratitude such a serious offense against God? One reason is that it ignores the Word of God by showing contempt for God’s promises of provision and protection, as well as His loving care, His faithfulness, and His answers to our prayers for help. And it reveals a serious lack of trust in God’s integrity and character. Ingratitude also magnifies our problems, instead of magnifying God. It belittles God, and it demeans Him. On the other hand, when we choose to adopt a thankful heart, we are shifting our focus from the size of our problems, to the size of our God. I heard one man say, “Don't talk to God about how big your problems are. Talk to your problems about how big your God is!” Another problem with being unthankful is that this kind of attitude feeds fear. Jesus often rebuked His disciples for being fearful. Having the intimate relationship with the Father that He did, He simply could not comprehend why anyone would doubt Him. When we are in a difficult situation, we can either feed our fear, or feed our faith. If we will decide to focus on God’s ability and willingness to protect and deliver us, we will rise above our fears and doubts, and we will gain the victory He had in store for us all along.
In First Timothy 6:17 (AMP), Paul warns us not to put our hope in money, but in God, “Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment.” God is not holding out on you. He wants you to have everything you need to live a life of purpose, victory, and abundance. But He can’t bless you the way He would like to when you focus on the things you don’t have, or the things you can’t do. He wants you to open your eyes to all of the good things that He has already blessed you with, and He wants you to lift your hands and begin praising Him from your heart. When you do, you will find that your provision and your supply will be abundantly increased and multiplied!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my lack of gratitude, and my tendency to grumble and complain. Open my eyes to all of the blessings You’ve already showered me with, and help me to focus on all the good in my life. Give me a truly grateful and thankful heart, and teach me to hold fast to Your promises of provision and abundance. May my constant confession be: “I am thankful and appreciative, and I’m always giving praise to God!” (Colossians 3:15 AMP)
- J. M. Farro