I pulled up to Jamba Juice and I was not happy. I just gave my boys a lecture on gratitude. Have you ever tried to tell someone why they should be thankful for what they have? It sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it?
This school year has been a bit tricky when it comes to drop off and pick up for my boys. My two oldest get out at 3:10 and my youngest gets out at 3:20. Not too bad, right? Well, the problem is the traffic. I can’t seem to get to my youngest fast enough if I pick up the other two first.
So, I tried reversing the order. Guess who wasn’t happy … the oldest two. They had to wait about 30 minutes before they got picked up.
As I pulled up to the school, you can imagine the looks on their faces. How dare I keep them waiting? How dare they sit under a shade tree while they played games on their phones and wait for a ride home?
So, on this Wednesday … breakfast date day … we were having some gratitude problems.
My middle son wanted Starbucks for breakfast and my oldest wanted Carl’s Jr. I wanted an oatmeal from Jamba Juice. The day I looked forward to every week was becoming a little more complicated. No one could agree on what to eat, and the bickering began before we left the house.
By the time we made it to the third stop, I had had it! Thus, the lecture about gratitude.
“Do you realize that most kids have to ride the bus home from school? So, if you want to keep complaining about how late I get there to pick up, you can start riding the bus home! And another thing, if taking you to breakfast brings out the worst in you instead of the best, maybe we need to stop having these privileges until your attitude changes.”
And as I said it, I realized something … sometimes having too much brings out the worst in us. I call them gratitude killers, and we’re going to talk about them today.
Gratitude Does Not Come Naturally
When I put my boys’ privileges into perspective for them, they immediately apologized for their attitudes. Why? Because ingratitude is a default. Complaining, comparing and negativity are all things that come easy to us. As a result, they kill our attitude of gratitude.
The Bible tells us that in the last days, people will become unthankful. The reason is because we believe we are entitled and therefore, we do not work on cultivating gratitude in our hearts.
Today, I am going to share three main killers of gratitude. This list is not all inclusive, but as we face Thanksgiving … a season of thankfulness … it will help us consider what shapes our attitudes.
Killer #1: Comparison
Comparison doesn’t only rob us of our joy, it robs us of being grateful for what we have. We take our eyes off of our gifts and we become jealous of the gifts of others.
Comparison does many things besides killing gratitude. It also causes resentment towards those we compare ourselves to. We are so concerned with what they have, we don’t see the wonderful things God has given to us. Or if we do, we see it as less than.
Instead of comparing ourselves to someone who has more, try looking at those who have less than you. When I remind my boys that their friends do not have what they have, suddenly their hearts soften. They realize it’s true. This truth puts things back into perspective for them, and they become more grateful for what they have.
There is always someone who has less than you. Look for them and help them out. It will put things into perspective and you will come away appreciating what you’ve been blessed with.
Killer #2: Complaining
Complaining means we are focused on the negative. Our attitude is already in the wrong place when we complain. Philippians 4:8 tells us that we are not to think on negative things. Whatever is in our heads and our hearts will come out in our words. If we are not grateful, we will not speak words of gratitude.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God does not like complaining. There are many, many verses in the Bible that tell us we are not to complain. One of the main reasons for this is because it changes our attitude and causes us to focus on the negative.
Now, I want to stress that I am not always jolly when I have to run my kids everywhere and load the dishwasher three times a day. I just told my husband today how I feel like a broken record around here. I find myself complaining at times, but let’s be real. I am thankful I have a dishwasher and running water to do dishes. There are some who do not. When I think of it that way, I become ashamed of my attitude and thankful for where I live and what God has blessed me with.
But nobody’s perfect. Just put it in perspective and God will give you the strength not to complain about it.
Killer #3: The Company We Keep
There’s a story in Numbers 13 where men went to spy out the land God promised to give them. Out of twelve men, only two brought back a good report. The other ten told the Hebrew people negative report after negative report.
But do you know what they really did? They COMPARED themselves to the people of the land and said, “All the people whom we saw in it are men of great size, and we became grasshoppers in our own sight” (verse 32-33). When they saw the men in the land, they saw themselves as being less than.
They also COMPLAINED. “Why did the Lord bring us into this land, to fall by the sword?” (14:3). When they heard the negative report from the spies, they began to complain and forget all that God had done for them in Egypt. They lost the perspective of what they had because of bad company … men who brought a bad report.
The company of the ten negative men infiltrated their negativity into the hearts of God’s people. The consequence? They missed out on the blessing of entering the promised land.
We have to be careful of the company we keep. Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33). If the company you keep is sucking the gratitude out of you, get new company. We don’t want to overlook God’s blessing because of negative “friends”. It’s as easy as that.
Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude is not something you become just because you decide to say “thank you” for thirty days on social media. I’m not telling you not to do those challenges, but I’m telling you those challenges won’t change your attitude.
It takes more than that. Gratitude is something you cultivate in your heart.
My challenge to you today is to join my 5 W’s to a Grateful Heart on October 21st. I will go LIVE each day from the 21st-25th in my Facebook group and do mini devotionals on gratitude. If you are not in my group, click here to get in.
I will also have a downloadable pdf for you to do a 5 minute devotional each morning on the 5 W’s to a Grateful Heart in your own time with God. If you are a subscriber of mine, you will get that pdf next week. You can also subscribe below if you haven’t already.
I look forward to seeing you in the group and in this challenge. Together, we can cultivate an attitude that glorifies God and bring joy to our lives.