Festive decorations are out and the blank spaces on my calendar have filled up fast. Checkouts are lined with people with their lists of gifts for family and friends. That’s where we all get asked the perfunctory, “How are you today?” Most customers will respond with the innocuous ‘Fine’ or ‘Okay,’ and some will be too preoccupied to respond at all. However, during a recent sermon, my pastor challenged us to reframe these interactions with a novel response: “I’m grateful.”
The Ten Lepers
His sermon focused on Luke 17: 11-19. In this passage, Jesus encounters ten lepers on the road to Jerusalem. They plead for his mercy, and he miraculously heals them, instructing them to go show themselves to the priests. Only one of the lepers turns back to give thanks for his healing. Jesus tells him “Your faith has made you well”. It is a faith rooted in a heart of gratitude to a God of abundance. Is ours? We don’t know for certain why the other nine men kept walking. Perhaps they felt entitled to healing after such suffering, or perhaps they were afraid that their healing wasn’t real or wouldn’t last. When we survey our circumstances, do we see the provision of God in our world? Or do we have a sense of entitlement? Are we letting fear stop us from practicing gratitude?
Certainly, there are times I have been afraid to be grateful, worried that I might somehow jinx myself or shouldn’t celebrate for fear my good fortune might not last. But that is not what God wants of us nor for us. He wants us to be like the one who turned back and worshipped with a grateful heart.
Being Grateful through Generous Giving
In my role at Abundance Canada, I am grateful to work with so many people who are like “the one.” They understand that all they have is from God, are truly grateful for it, and want to turn back and say thanks through generous giving. I was inspired by working with Susan (a pseudonym), a woman putting her gratitude into action. With real estate prices in her area soaring, Susan sold a property which left her with more cashflow than she’d ever had before. She was grateful for this financial blessing and wanted to do something meaningful with the proceeds.
After hearing about Abundance Canada’s Flexible Gifting Accounts, she made an appointment with our office. Susan and I worked together, planning and organizing her way of giving back. Of course, she had to balance the tension between giving freely and determining how much to keep for her own needs, but gratitude empowered her to overcome the fear of not having enough. Funds were transferred to Abundance Canada, timed so that the resulting charitable donation receipt was most relevant to Susan’s income tax situation. She blessed more than a dozen charities with generous donations. As she gave in this way, Susan’s trust in God increased, and her gratitude with it. She went on to replicate those initial donations two more times. She says it is very fulfilling.
Gratitude is a Choice
We aren’t all in the financial position Susan is, but gratitude is not a trait that some have and others don’t. Gratitude is a choice, one that becomes easier the more we practice it. We all have so much for which to be grateful for, but we must start by intentionally cultivating a heart of gratitude. I challenge you to begin by simply answering the upcoming season’s many “How are you” questions with a quick reflection on your blessings and a heartfelt “I’m grateful”. Imagine the conversation you’ll start! It might be one you’ll both be grateful you had.
Contributed by Marlow Gingerich
Gift Planning Consultant