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“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18, New English Translation).

True happiness seems elusive to many people. Part of this may result from their viewpoint on life. If we judge our happiness by what we own or our position in life, we will be disappointed. No matter what we have, it will never be enough. No matter who we know or how high our social status, that indefinable “something” will always be just out of reach. So how do we have a rich, fulfilling life? One step toward happiness is living a life of gratitude.

Can it be as simple as feeling thankful for the things we have in life? It’s certainly an important element. Developing an attitude of gratitude has many positive effects on us—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

  • Relieves Stress.

Modern life is stressful. There always seems to be too little time with too many expectations upon us. Studies show that gratitude counters these negatives we face. If we take time at the beginning of each day to thank God for the peace He offers, our stress levels go down.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, New Living Translation).

  • Changes Our Focus.

When we are thankful, our focus shifts. We are no longer consumed with our desires and our circumstances. We open ourselves up to others and feel empathy. Most of all, we open our eyes to God’s blessings our lives. Every good thing comes from Him.

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17, NLT).

  • Partners with Humility.

Gratitude and humility go hand in hand. Each enhances the other. Humility reminds us we are not operating within our own strength. Whatever we accomplish in life is due to God’s help and the help of others. Gratitude allows us to acknowledge this.

The Bible warns that in the last days many will be proud and unthankful. Second Timothy 3:2 says, For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy” (English Standard Version). As a child of God, we demonstrate to an ungrateful world a better way to live. When we live a life of gratitude, we “spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume” (II Corinthians 2:14).

Suggestion for Today:

  • Begin the day by thanking God for His blessings.
  • Write a note to a loved one expressing thanks for being a part of your life.
  • Think about someone who has helped you in a special way and thank them for their time.
  • Send a note of appreciation to your pastor or pastor’s wife.
  • Verbally thank those who help you in any way throughout the day.
  • At the end of your day make a list of good things that happened today.

 

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (I Peter 5:5-6, English Standard Version).

Why does the Bible stress humility so much? Is this characteristic really so important in our lives? Or is it just an old-fashioned concept that doesn’t fit with our modern way of looking out for Number One? By examining various scriptures, we learn humility is not only essential but also enriches our lives. Blessings come from having a humble spirit.

  • We need humility to come to God.

Humility lowers itself while pride is arrogant and seeks to exalt itself. When we seek forgiveness for our sins, we come to God with a spirit of humility and submission. It opens the door to repentance, an essential part of the process. James 4:10 tells us, Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

  • The humble have a teachable spirit.

Think of a school room. Before the student can learn, he must be willing to listen to the instructor. With humility we open ourselves to the wisdom of others, including the things God desires to teach us. “He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalm 25:9, CSB).

  • Gratitude grows from a humble heart.

Pride robs us of gratitude. It’s so easy to take credit for all the good things that come our way. We lose sight of what others and God have done for us.  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

  • Humility recognizes our need of God’s help.

We can do life on our own, but why would we want to? God is willing and able to provide all we need. We can tap into His strength and power. “I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence” (II Peter 1:3, New English Translation).

So many people have the wrong idea about humility. It isn’t low self-esteem or feeling worthless. Nor is it making yourself a doormat and inviting everyone to walk over you. It does not mean you must discredit the gifts and abilities God has put within you. As Rick Warren once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

Humility is foundational to living the best life. It is also essential to successful relationships—with each other and with God. The humble person is a blessed person.

Prayer: Lord, You have blessed me with so much. I know it isn’t because of anything I have done but because of Your goodness and mercy. I pray my heart will always be open to Your will. Give me a heart that is open to Your Word and the things You want to teach me. My dependency is on You.

 

And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35, NKJV).

The twelve disciples of Jesus were a mix of backgrounds and personalities. Under other circumstances, it’s quite possible some of them would never have met or associated with each other. Their common point was their belief in Jesus and His ministry. They spent over three years with Him and each other. Yet at times when reading the Bible I want to stop them and say, “What did you just say? You did what? Really!” (Am I the only one who would like to join the narrative with questions and comments of my own?) The passage in Mark 9:33-35 is one of those times.

The Controversy

Sometimes the disciples just seemed to miss the point of Jesus’ ministry. This is especially obvious when we read of their arguments among themselves—usually when they thought Jesus wasn’t listening. It happened again and again, and Jesus sometimes called them out on it. “What were you arguing about on the way?” He asked (verse 33). No one spoke up to answer His question. After all, it would be embarrassing to admit they were arguing over who would be the greatest among them.

They missed it. Completely. His kingdom was not about pomp and power. His kingdom would be established on servanthood.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, NKJV).

Jesus lived it before them and explained it to them, but they just didn’t grasp what He meant. Even at their last meal together before His betrayal, there was still strife among the twelve over who should be considered the greatest (Luke 22:24).

What’s Your SQ?

It is easy to fool ourselves and think our motives are right. That’s why we need to search our heart each day. We can discover our SQ (Servant Quotient) by asking ourselves a few questions.

  • Is my service motivated by love (Galatians 5:13)?
  • Am I concerned about who gets the credit for what is done (Philippians 2:3-8)?
  • Am I seeking man’s approval or God’s approval (Galatians 1:10)?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice my desires for the good of the body (Colossians 1:24)?

We have been given a tremendous example by the Lord of blessing each other through servanthood. Now let’s follow His example.

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you’” (John 13:12-15, English Standard Version).

Prayer: Lord, it is so easy for me to become wrapped up in what I want and how I can push myself into a place of prominence. Yet that isn’t how You did it. You didn’t come to show Your great accomplishments. You came to be a servant of all. Please help me examine my heart every day to be sure my motives are pure. Help me to humble myself and follow your example of living my life with the attitude of a servant.