On Being Grateful 

As we prepare to celebrate an entire holiday devoted to giving thanks, it’s a good time to consider what that actually means. No one can deny that we have a lot to be grateful for in today’s America.  Being grateful is great. But using gratitude as an excuse to hold yourself back from higher abundance? Well, that’s not so great. 

The well-meaning admonition that “You should just be grateful for what you have” is meant to inspire a thankful attitude in all circumstances, and there’s nothing wrong with this.  However, that statement too often engenders guilt at wanting more for yourself and those you care about.

In the New Testament parable of the talents, we have an excellent illustration of the virtue of building on your resources, as well as the negative consequences of jealously protecting that which you have from the risk of loss.  The message is we have all been endowed at our creation with unique gifts, and we are meant to cultivate and multiply them for good. 

Gratitude and the desire for greater abundance are not mutually exclusive states. You can be grateful and still strive to create a better life for yourself and your loved ones – in fact, it’s one of the best ways to express gratitude for your blessings, however few they may sometimes seem.  Raymond Holliwell brought this point home in his book Working With The Law:

You haven’t much to begin with, you say? Well, neither did Jesus when he had some five thousand hungry souls to feed. He had only five loaves and a few fish, yet he did something with them. He started action by praising the little at hand and then passed it about…. When you learn to take what you have and build upon it, NOT with scorn and condemnation, but with praise and gratitude, you are working the Law and the Law will give the Increase.

Praise God that good is everywhere.

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