I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately.
I think gratitude – thankfulness, appreciation, value – has a very underrated foundational role in virtue and vice.
Legalism, the kind of self-righteous Christianity that is all about control, guilt, power, pride and perfection, really has beneath it a sick and hollowed out sense of gratitude. Grace begets grace. Love begets love. Likewise, law begets guilt. Self-righteousness begets control. Pride begets judgment. And Pharisaism begets exclusive, controlling, joyless and sick Christianity.
Justice, as well, depends on gratitude.
God said to his people that we are to love and welcome the alien and the foreigner “for you too were slaves and foreigners in Egypt.” (He rescued us, therefore, we should have an affinity with those who need rescuing.)
Our sense of gratitude begets lovingkindness. Our appreciation for justice begets concern over injustice. And empathy precedes love and advocacy for the vulnerable and oppressed.
It’s a tough thing though – gratitude isn’t exactly the dominant virtue in a consumer-driven culture and with an entitled generation.
So, may we find ourselves coming to understand and appreciate the justice, love and gifts of a good and loving God. May we be filled with thankfulness to the degree love for others flows easy and naturally.
May we have a foundation of gratitude.