For from him and through him and for him are all things. Romans 11:36
Would you like to cultivate a greater sense of gratitude? George Herbert, a seventeenth-century British poet, encourages readers toward that goal in his poem “Gratefulness”: “Thou that hast given so much to me, give one thing more: a grateful heart.”
Herbert recognized the only thing he needed in order to be thankful was simply an awareness of the blessings God had already given him.
The Bible declares Christ Jesus as the source of all blessing in Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and for him are all things.” “All things” encompasses both the extravagant and the mundane, everyday gifts in our lives. Everything we receive in life comes directly from our heavenly Father (James 1:17), and He willingly gives us those gifts out of His love for us.
To expand my awareness of God’s blessings in my life, I am learning to cultivate a heart that acknowledges the source of all the joys I experience each day, but especially the ones I often take for granted. Today those included a crisp morning to run, the anticipation of an evening with friends, a stocked pantry so I could make French toast with my daughters, the beauty of the world outside my window, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
What is the “so much” that God has already given to you? Opening our eyes to those blessings will help us to develop grateful hearts.
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Do you tend to think of yourself as more or less thankful than other people? Consider how the apostle Paul used that question to set a love-trap for some of his readers. Early in his letter to the Romans he describes those who have no interest in worshiping or giving thanks to their Creator (Romans 1:21). For the rest of chapter he describes the unraveling lives of those who refuse to acknowledge the goodness of their God.
Then it happens. Paul anticipates that someone has taken the bait. With no warning he asks his readers whether they really think they are any different than the unthankful sinners he has been condemning (2:1). Paul then spends much of the rest of his letter giving his readers reasons to give thanks to God for revealing in Christ the greatest good news the world has ever heard. Just before erupting in his great expression of worshipful praise to God (11:33–36), Paul concludes, “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all” (v. 32).
In the smallest kindness, a thankful heart can sense the greatness of our God.