Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Practicing Gratitude: A Spiritual Discipline

Gratitude is in the spotlight every year around Thanksgiving day in the United States. However, more attention is being paid to cultivating that attitude as a lifelong, year-round spiritual discipline.

“Gratitude is one of the first result of a spiritual self-examination,” said the Rev. Ken Sloan, director of stewardship and connectional ministries at the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tenn.

“Teaching stewardship begins with that self-examination,” he said. “It focuses our thoughts on what we have, not on what we don’t have.”

The self-examination can also help shift the focus from what the church needs in terms of dollars and cents, to looking at what we have received, how God has blessed us, Sloane said. And when we see how God has indeed blessed us, we are grateful.

“When grown from the spirit of gratitude, stewardship is no longer seen as some ‘bitter pill’ that needs to be swallowed,” he said.

Scripture both mandates and offers expressions of gratitude. Thank offerings have an early place in the Bible. Leviticus 7:12-18 instructs how to make a thanksgiving offering. Ephesians 5:20 says, “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Common English Bible). Psalm after psalm begins with thanksgiving.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, realized that gratitude was the response to faith in God.

--The Rev. Erik Alsgaard, editor of the MI Area Reporter and pastor of St. Ignace (Mich.) United Methodist Church

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

No comments: