Gratitude Is A Shield

Pastor Craig rejoined our Thanksgiving series from last year called The Great Attitude of Gratitude. On Sunday, he shared a message on how rejoicing can be a protection for Christians. Here is the recap of his message that he shared on his blog. Be sure to scroll down to get the link to watch the video of the full message.

Gratitude is a great attitude. It sets you apart from the crowd of complainers, and it causes people to ask, “What do you know that we don’t know?”      

Wouldn’t you just love to silence the complainers in your life? Maybe you can relate to this poem by Shel Silverstein called Complainin’ Jack

This morning my old jack-in-the-box 

Popped out—and wouldn’t get back-in-the-box. 

He cried, “Hey, there’s a tack-in-the-box, 

And it’s cutting me through and through. 

“There also is a crack-in-the-box, 

And I never find a snack-in-the-box, 

And sometimes I hear a quack-in-the-box, 

‘Cause a duck lives in here too.” 

Complain, complain is all he did— 

I finally had to close the lid.

Since, as Christians, we can’t really “close the lid” on the complaining people around us, maybe there’s something else we can do. I can think of three possibilities. 

  1. We could entirely avoid complaining people. But to do this wouldn’t allow us to live our lives as the salt and light Jesus called us to (Matthew 5:13-16). After all, in order for salt to season or light to drive away darkness, the salt and light have to be in close proximity to those they are helping. 
  2. We could simply ignore the negativity. Be around it, but do nothing about it. But both Paul and Jesus call us to engage with people in a way that points them to the Good News of the Gospel (Philippians 2:14-16; Matthew 28:19). 
  3. If we cannot avoid complainers nor remain apathetic about them, we must find a way to engage them but protect our hearts in the process. 

We learn from the apostle Paul’s letter to Philippi that gratitude is our shield against anything that would seek to steal our joy! “Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1). 

In the Greek, the root word for “safeguard” means “fail.” But when we add the prefix it becomes cannot fail! So rejoicing makes us secure, firm, reliable.

Quite simply that means that gratitude is our attitude protector because gratitude is our shield against anything that would seek to steal our joy!

Jesus used the same word for rejoicing even when we are facing insults, exclusion, and persecution—

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23) 

Both Jesus in this passage and Paul in Philippians 3:1 remind us that our rejoicing is IN the Lord. We are not expected to rejoice in our circumstances, but in who God is for us. Matthew Henry noted, “The more we rejoice in Christ the more willing we shall be to do and to suffer for Him, and the less danger we shall be in of being drawn away from Him.” 

I also like both the proactive and reactive use of rejoicing that John Henry Jowett identifies when he says, “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” Rejoicing is never supposed to be a one-and-done action, but it is an ongoing lifestyle. As Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi just a few verses later, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). 

Gratitude is a shield—a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic—but it doesn’t protect us unless we use it!

In order to use this shield whenever it’s needed, we have to be constantly reminded to be grateful. This is where we can leverage the power of our brain’s reticular activating system. I shared a short video about how to do this on The Podcast last week—check it out here

Gratitude is a great attitude, and grateful people are a winsome testimony of God’s love and provision to those “complainin’ Jacks” we all encounter. Try it and see what a difference it will make with those you are around this week. 

To check out all of the sermons in this series, please click here.