Cultivate a Thankful Heart

Last Year I wrote a book titled, The Power of a Humble Life. In the book I write that “Humble people are grateful people.”

This is one of the main qualities that characterizes the lives of the humble. They recognize who deserves the credit for everything in their lives. True heartfelt thanksgiving is a way in which we humble ourselves. Pride causes us to forget God while thanksgiving causes us to remember Him. Being thankful is a critical issue in our lives because the Bible is replete with the command to “Remember the Lord your God.”

The problem is that we are not naturally grateful people. How often do we have to remind our children to say, “Thank you”? If you were to win some type of award, would your first thought be to thank those who helped you along the way and to thank God for your talent, ability, and the opportunities He has given you?

As I have studied the importance of gratitude over the years, I have gained a greater and greater appreciation for its significance and recognize the deadly consequences of ingratitude. Os Guinness says ingratitude is a moral, spiritual, and emotional carelessness about the realities of life. Tim Keller says every time something good happens in your life and you are not grateful to God, you are putting a deep mark on your soul. Author and theologian Warren Wiersbe says, “An ungrateful heart is fertile soil for all types of evil.”

I have done a study of the Bible on ingratitude and those who were not thankful and have concluded that ungratefulness is linked to godlessness and evil. The Apostle Paul spells this out clearly in Romans 1:21 when he speaks of people who once knew God but have forgotten Him: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Os Guinness says that in the Bible the theme of remembering God is directly linked to giving Him thanks and is inseparable from faith. People of strong faith remember, and those who remember are those who give thanks. Those who forget God are ungrateful. This is true for nations as well as individuals.

The great Nobel Prize winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn made this observation about his own country:

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

There seems to be a certain historical pattern in Western Civilization. God blesses certain people who are hardworking, but who are also humble, thankful, and who depend on God in their day-to-day living. Over time they experience a certain degree of abundance and wealth.

And then slowly they begin to take credit for all of their prosperity, their hearts then become proud, and they forget about God.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I encourage you to cultivate a thankful heart. Not only is it pleasing to God, it will impact you. It will keep your heart humble.


Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.

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