The Noblest of Virtues

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.  They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be Thankful when you’re tired and weary because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.  A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.

Author Unknown

When you think about gratitude and its place in our culture, according to Dr. Christina Kerns, you might not immediately think about morality, that is, matters of right and wrong. Often, we make gratitude sound like it’s all about you. In the domain of self-help, we hear that gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life, or that when we are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.

There is a much older, pre-self-help conception of gratitude as an emotion with moral motivations. To first-century philosopher Cicero, gratitude was a matter of religious obligation “to the immortal gods.” Modern psychologists such as Michael McCullough and colleagues have systemized it this way: Gratitude is a “moral barometer”—an acknowledgement “that one has been the beneficiary of another person’s moral actions.” They go on to argue that gratitude is also a moral reinforcer, meaning that you will see a “thanks” from others as a reward that will lead you to give more of yourself in the future.

In a sense, gratitude seems to prepare the brain for generosity. Counting your blessings is quite different than counting your cash, because gratitude, just as philosophers and psychologists predict, points us toward moral behaviors, reciprocity, and pay-it-forward motivations. Apparently, our brain literally makes us feel richer when others do well. Perhaps this is why researchers have observed that grateful people give more.

Gratitude might be good for us – but it is good for others as well. As Robert Emmons writes in The Little Book of Gratitude, “we did not create or fashion ourselves, and we did not get to where we are in life by ourselves. Living in gratitude is living in truth. It is the most accurate and honest approach to life.”

Gratitude is a virtue worthy of our cultivation. It gets at the very essence of what it means to be created, finite, fallen, redeemed, and sustained by the God of all grace. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.

“O Come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with songs. For the Lord is a great God and great King above all gods.” Psalms 95:1-3

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *