Pastor Chuck Swindoll: How to sustain an attitude of gratitude
[Music] most of us were coached at our earliest age to say thank you courtesy our parents taught us is a virtue to be exercised through modest expressions of gratitude in today’s world however simple gestures of respect are often overlooked and today on insight for living we have the privilege of listening to a message originally delivered during Thanksgiving season to an audience of seminary students in training for full-time vocational service given this opportunity to speak at Dallas Theological Seminary chuck decided to reinforce the value of sustaining an attitude of gratitude [Music] thank you for being here I’m always honored to to be invited to speak and it’s not an easy thing to decide on what to talk on when you come to the chapel here I know you recently heard from Charles Stanley is that correct Charles Stanley was here great never forget the lady who finished the day at our church we had had our worship service and she came down with one of dr. Stanley’s books and she said I want to thank you dr. Stanley for that message today she said I’m very grateful and I wonder if you’d sign your book I said I’ll be glad to so I signed it had to remember Charles not Andy Stanley so I wrote Charles Stanley and she said oh thank you I’ll treasure this the rest of my she walked out just so grateful that she had been there to hear dr. Charles Stanley speak who cares you know well the way we started off today was perfect for what I want to talk on because I want to talk to you about sustaining the spirit of a heart of gratitude that’s what’s on my mind today and I believe in it wholeheartedly in fact I think an attitude of gratitude is one of the most contagious of all attitudes we can sustain and being around a person who is grateful and frequently uses those two marvelous words thank you often is just a therapy they make us smile they lift our spirits they really do change our environment within and odd and around us they impact others can be as simple as the little five-year-old boy who was telling his mother that he was even thankful that he wears glasses and she wanted to know why are you thankful for that and his answer was quick and simple he said it keeps the boys from hitting me and keeps the girls from kissing me so glasses work all that’s gonna change buddy before too long so you’re in for a surprise I remember the words of the man who wrote he who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness even more profound of the word of dietrich bonheoffer who wrote in ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give and it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich love that line it’s only with gratitude life becomes rich it is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison to what we owe others have to add along with that the flip side of the same coin and that is that there is nothing more offensive or oppressive than an attitude of ingratitude which is a characteristic of our age that shouldn’t surprise us Paul writes of it in Romans 1 just as much as in the last piece that he wrote when he wrote Timothy enrollment 1 Romans 1 he writes of the of the magnificence of God’s artwork in the natural realm we call it here at the seminary general revelation and in spite of God writing his glory across the skies which mankind is able to read every day of our lives still he remains ungrateful still there’s an attitude of ingratitude when I look at Paul’s words in 2nd Timothy 3 and I read of the savage days in which we live that’s the way one of my mentors used to handle the word difficult in verse 1 of 2nd Timothy 3 in the last days difficult or savage times will come and then he begins from there through verse 8 to describe the times in which we live when men and women will be lovers of money and boastful and arrogant and revilers and disobedient to parents in the middle of all of it Heath Heath mentions ungrateful along with unholy along with unforgiving ungrateful the spirit of Thanksgiving needs to remain and a hope it is remaining I hope you today have not relegated that spirit of gratitude to a holiday and left it there and fail to bring it into today tomorrow next week the week of finals the week beyond finals next semester into your ministry as I’ll tell you if a spirit of ingratitude grips you strong enough and long enough you’ll change and your ministry will change and it won’t take a really insightful person to know that your difficult to be around because ungrateful people repel others now why are we so ungrateful why are our times marked by such ingratitude as Paul mentions in Romans and in 2nd Timothy and in so many other places at the risk of being simplistic in my analysis I think a major reason is pride proud people don’t say thank you they don’t think thank you pride is of course filled with self and when that is true we hold back our thank you to others because we’re so self-important I’ll tell you who will say thank you and do so frequently humble people broken people crushed contrite people are quick to say thank you thank you thank you for the little things thank you for the unexpected things Paul writes to his friends in Thessalonica I’m turning there for the rest of my time with you 1st Thessalonians chapter 5 toward the end of that letter there’s sort of a staccato set of statements pom pom pom pom they’re brief and he punches him out when I was taking oboe in high school and mr. Valen who had the chair of first year of oboe in the Houston Symphony would come they they made house calls in those days and he was my teacher I love mr. Villani and as I would play duets with him I sometimes couldn’t continue he was so good and I was so bad that it just didn’t it hardly blended but we did a couple of duets it worked beautifully and I on occasion would stop and I would just look at him and would say you know how do you how do you do it how can you play so well all the time of course he made his own reeds and he’d been playing since he was just a little boy and from another country had come over and of all things and worked his way into the symphony and when we get to those places that were staccato he would say to me punch it out punch it out put your tongue on that Reed and punch out those nose that’s what Paul does at the end of this letter he punches out these statements including the shortest verse in the entire Greek New Testament it isn’t Jesus wept we’ll get to it in a moment but he begins at verse 12 by reminding us to be grateful for in this case in our context a body of people who pour themselves into your lives and that would be the Faculty of this school so let’s have them in mind as I punch out this twelfth verse with you we request of you brothers and sisters that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction appreciate them he goes on and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work it’s not great don’t let the semester pass without pausing with each one of your profs for at least of a few seconds to look them in the eye or with your own hand not it not an email that’s a cheap way to write a thank-you do it by hand you who still have some kind of penmanship left all of us starting to write like physicians it looks these days but if you’ve still cultivated your penmanship write it in your own hand and say it in a fresh creative way specifically naming what particular things stands out in that particular teacher that has meant much to you express your appreciate I am still thanking my profs and most of them aren’t left but those who are it is not uncommon when I see them to thank him again for teaching me what they taught me which was more than an ability to handle the biblical text it was it was a touch I’m the kind of like the difference between a piano player and a pianist is touch great profs help you with touch your lives and touch with the text and those who work with you and in the skill of communicating they they help you do that better and I I’m honest to this day when I preach I think I learned that technique from that particular person I think he’s gone now but I think thank you Lord for the privilege of rubbing up next to him and sitting in his home in a class of eight individuals as he poured into us some techniques on communication without still use and i esteem him very highly in love and sometime a professed reprove and and thank him for that faithful are the wounds of a friend a deceitful of the kisses of an enemy proverbs 27:6 i’ve always loved the story that my homiletics prophet told us that he had a young man that was convinced he had the gift of a preaching and he didn’t he just couldn’t preach his way out of a paper bag and he just was convinced he should preach and his mother was convinced he should preach and his grandmother was convinced he should preach and the prof just did his best to endure it and finally by the third year which was a particularly r when we came to terms with some of these things and he just told a young man look you just don’t have here’s someone that the gift of preaching that takes guts to say that to a young person young man he said oh yes I do he said well okay the Prophet then let me put it this way nobody I know has the gift of listening to you so that worked and as I recall he didn’t go in to appreciate Minister and he went into a successful ministry not gonna tell you what it is because your lap but on but thankfully didn’t go into the pulpit and shouldn’t have not everybody ought to be in a pulpit to carry out their ministry we have a prompt to thank for telling them and that’s a tough part of your job keep telling them keep telling the truth so that we hear it and we thank you for it and so let’s just make the concentric circles go a little broader and let’s include now our family members look at the end of verse 13 live in peace with each other he urge you here’s another one of those little staccato moments we urge you admonish the unruly you have to do that sometime in a family encourage the faint-hearted help the weak be patient with everyone be patient with everyone and then the circle it broadens with friends and with others in life see that no one replace another with evil for evil but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people and then begins a real brief statements rejoice always there’s the shortest verse shortest in all the Bible but what a what a grand command I want to be around people like that I want to be around those that are finding joy in life in spite of their circumstances and here’s another one pray without ceasing the ID of a hacking call pray in that kind of consistency pray continually Const the prayer on your heart prayer on your lips prayer for specific individuals specific needs and here we are and everything give thanks for this as God’s will for you in Christ Jesus this has reference to every circumstance every circumstance there’s not one that that he doesn’t include in your circumstances today be thankful grateful I wrote a piece for our board of directors at insightful living and I want to read it to you I don’t usually do this but I want to do it today has everything to do with being a thankful person and I’ll try to keep it interesting though I’m reading what I’m sharing with you I’ll never forget the day even though I was only 10 years old it was a Wednesday it was the day before Thanksgiving I was standing ramrod straight next to my desk in South made elementary school hand over my heart as we were together as students pledging our allegiance to the flag of the United States of America which we did every morning hanging by the flag that was draped before us in the class was a large framed picture of our president who was gripped with polio and he was younger but he had a big smiling face and it was familiar to all of us because he’s a very popular president and I had to remind myself that he had had polio because it was never emphasized and he never referred to it there he stood smiling at the class as we pledged allegiance following our pledge our teacher as she had always done pause to pray so she bowed her prayer and we we bowed with her and I notice it wasn’t very long before her voice broke I’ve never heard our our teacher cry and before long she just couldn’t continue and she just had heaves of sobbing and my heart went out to her whatever it was I didn’t know what it was till later she was in deep grief we were of course in a double war on each side of our country it was a pretty bleak time and she had lost her husband on the shores of Normandy is 1944 and she was going on without him and this was their first Thanksgiving her first Thanksgiving without him and her heart was breaking this brave woman refused to allow her grief to eclipse the significance of giving thanks so she finally was able to get hold of her emotions and she returned to thanking God for a number of things I was lost in sympathy for her and a little boys pity for his teacher when I was walking home that crisp November afternoon in East Houston and that was the day I really fell in love with Thanksgiving and beloved it ever since my all-time favorite holiday and I’ll tell you why momentarily I stopped on the way home and I I thanked God for my teacher for our school for my friends for my church for my family for my country I still remembers a little boy swearing before the Lord that if I ever was able to do so I would defend our country and I didn’t understand fully all that that meant but I remember 13 years later when I had the privilege having earned the right to wear the dress blues wearing the uniform of the Marine Corps and standing and pledging allegiance to the flag and more often than not saluting it as it was raised and lowered each morning and evening on the island of Okinawa so I was eight thousand miles away from home it’s interesting how on those occasions I would remember my ten-year-old experience and my teacher and to this day I remember her Thanksgiving put steel in our bones he reminds us of our enviable magnificent heritage [Music] you [Music]
Pastor Chuck Swindoll – Sustaining an Attitude of Gratitude, Part 1 – Insight for Living
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Insight for Living is the Bible-teaching ministry of author and pastor Charles R. Swindoll. Insight for Living is committed to excellence in communicating biblical truth and its application.