Gratitude in the Bible: Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart
It can be easy to take things for granted, especially when facing difficult situations. However, gratitude is a powerful tool that can help us navigate life's challenges and appreciate the good moments even more.
The Bible is full of examples of people who lived with gratefulness, and their stories can teach us a lot about how to be more grateful ourselves. Let's explore some of those examples to learn why living with gratitude is essential to being a Christian.
What Does Gratitude Mean in the Bible?
Gratitude in the Bible means "extending favor towards" or giving grace and kindness as a response.
If we go back to the Bible's original language, the Greek word "χάριτι" refers to the quality of showing appreciation and returning kindness. This is in contrast to how Merriam-Webster defines "gratitude," which is more of thankfulness for a personal benefit, such as being “thankful” for something that happened to you.
For example, saying "thank you" doesn't automatically mean you're actually grateful. You may be just saying it to be polite, whereas thankfulness genuinely acknowledges the efforts of others.
Meanwhile, Biblical gratitude is an approach to doing something, sustenance that strengthens you, and the intention behind your actions. Gratitude is a positive response to experiencing God's goodness and grace. In other words, once you realize that God is working in your life, you'll show gratefulness in how you live.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17)
Gratitude is mentioned a lot in the Bible because it helps us develop all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). By being grateful to God, we'll have joy, peace, and self-control, be patient, kind, gentle, and generous toward others, and be utterly faithful to God. Gratitude is at the root of your spiritual growth.
How Many Times is Gratitude Mentioned in the Bible?
The Bible mentions the word "gratitude" (χάριτι and other variations in Greek) 157 times. It does not appear as frequently as "fear not" (which is said 365 times), but it appears more than "thanks" or "thanksgiving" (mentioned 72 times).
Who Showed Gratitude in the Bible?
From the unnamed leper to Job who lost everything, several believers were grateful to God in all circumstances – even challenging ones. Here are a few examples of gratitude in the Bible that we can learn from:
- The leper: Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when He met 10 people with leprosy. Out of His love and sovereignty, He miraculously healed all 10 lepers. However, only one of them returned, praised God, threw themself on Jesus’ feet, and thanked Him. (Luke 17:11-19)
- The sinful woman: Jesus was eating with Pharisees when a “sinful” woman showed up, brought a precious alabaster jar of expensive perfume, kissed Jesus’ feet, and washed them with her hair and perfume. She showed an act of worship and gratitude to Jesus, and He forgave her sins in response. (Luke 7:36-50)
- King David: King David wrote the Psalms, where he talked about how grateful he is to God. Even when he was at his lowest points (e.g. murdering a man and committing adultery), he always repented and recommitted his life to God, thanking Him for His forgiveness. (Psalms 7, 28, 50, 69, 95, 100, 103)
- Hannah: Hannah was one of the two wives of Ephraim, and the other wife constantly taunted her as she was barren. She cried out to God in prayer, and, because of her faith, God gave her Samuel. Hannah responded with great thanksgiving, acknowledging that her son was from God. (1 Samuel 1:1-28)
- Daniel: King Darius threatened Daniel because he didn't want to worship other gods. Still, Daniel gave thanks and worshipped God endlessly. As a result, he was thrown into the lion's den. But God heard his prayer and protected him, and Daniel came out of the den glorifying and thanking Him. (Daniel 6:1-10)
- Paul: Paul used to persecute Christians. But after experiencing a change of heart, he became a humble, grateful person for God. He was beaten, shipwrecked, and thrown in prison. Yet, he was grateful to God, who gave him life. (Philippians 4:11-12)
- Job: Job lost everything, including his children, possessions, and health. Even in complete loss, however, Job decided that God was bigger than his struggles and continued to be worthy of praise. Because of this, God blessed Job with even more than he had before. (Job 1:1-22)
Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart Verse
There isn’t a word-for-word “give thanks with a grateful heart” verse in the Bible. The phrase was popularized by the 1990 song “Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart” by Don Moen, which many churches today still use in their Sunday service praise and worship.
The song is based on Bible values. Don Moen most likely used the following verse as inspiration: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” (Psalm 107:1-3) In fact, the song quotes multiple Bible verses, telling the weak to say they're strong (Joel 3:10) and the poor to say they're rich (2 Corinthians 8:9) because of what the Lord has done.
In other words, whenever we feel like we're lacking or losing in life, we are to "give thanks with a grateful heart" because God saved us and continues to care for us today.
Other Examples of Gratitude in the Bible
Multiple other Bible verses talked about having a grateful heart. Here are some Scriptures that expound on how Christians should have gratitude in their lives:
- The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. (Psalm 118:24 and 26)
- Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18)
- I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)
- Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Living with Gratitude, Living by God’s Grace
It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well. But when challenges come our way, most of us tend to fall into a negative headspace where there’s no space for gratefulness or hope.
Whenever you struggle to be grateful, the best solution is to go back to Scripture. Remind yourself that everything happens according to God's will, and He will give you the peace and strength needed to push through. By His goodness and grace, we can rest easy and be grateful for everything He's doing in our lives – just like Biblical figures did before.