The Bible is a blueprint for living joy filled lives. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that when we are in the midst of the everyday. But the good book really does have the best plan for how to live with a thankful heart each day.
Sure, it’s easy to be thankful for our blessings in times of peace or quiet reflection. But between diapers, doctor’s appointments, soccer practice, pre-school, dinner prep, boo boos, sibling arguments, dirty dishes, laundry and who knows what else, we lose sight of what God has laid out for us. We are human after all.
But what if we could truly live with a thankful heart every day. Think about what that would mean for us and our families. Think about the joy we could experience. I’m not saying that every moment of every day would be a dream. But even amidst in the chaos, we can give thanks for the chaos.
So here are seven practical tips that offer direction for how to live with a thankful heart every day.
Spend Time Reading God’s Word
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
I don’t know about you, but reading God’s word just centers me. It helps me to focus each day on His plans for me. Reminds me of God’s relentless pursuit of my heart. It’s one big love note from God, telling me just how much He loves me. And provides guidance for how He wants me to live.
I get it. Your spare time is virtually non-existent. But let the dishes wait or cut your nails tomorrow. You’ll be glad you did. I’m not saying I’ve reached perfection here, but I try to get some time in with God’s word every day.
Some days it’s 15 minutes, other days it’s 2 minutes, some days it doesn’t happen at all. But I keep trying because I know life is easier with God at my side. And, plus, I want my kids to see me nurturing a relationship with God.
There are definitely some devotionals I love. The Sarah Young devotional is a quick pick me up when time is limited. I also love the First 5 app by Proverbs 31 ministries. But there are endless devotionals for everything under the sun. Or you could simply be following a reading plan to read thru the bible in a year. Whatever it is, keep at it. Even if you miss a day. Pick it up the next and keep going.
When you read about God’s love for you each day. How can you not be consistently thankful.
Stop the Comparisons
But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Galatians 6:4-5
It’s so easy to make comparisons or to try to ‘keep up with the Jones’.’ Especially with the prevalence of social media. Every birthday, anniversary, holiday and special occasion looks so perfect thru the lens of a camera. But newsflash…life is messy…certainly not nearly as clean as it looks on Facebook.
I posted some great pics of my daughter on Halloween. But 60 seconds before I caught the best pics, my daughter was running around our living room screaming. Tearing at her costume. And throwing a royal temper tantrum. I almost packed it in and said we weren’t going trick-or-treating. But then she calmed down and we left. The pictures told only one side of the story.
The point is, things aren’t always what they seem. The grass isn’t always greener. And, besides, the more we’re focusing on what others have (and consequently what we don’t) the less we are thankful for what is right in front of us.
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5
In the same vein as comparing yourself to others, we need to stop judging others. And let’s get real for a moment. We ALL do this on some level. As I said earlier, we are human after all. But if we want to live with thankful hearts, we need to put down the judging and start looking at our own lives.
When we’re focused on others, we’re not focused on our present. And the reality is, we have enough sin in our own life without focusing on others. Their sin is between them and God, as is our own. Only God knows the depths of our hearts. God is so big and much more well-equipped anyway. He doesn’t need our help.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
I know this can be a hard one. Sure, small offenses can be fairly easy to overcome. But when someone you love truly hurts you deeply, it can be very difficult to move past. We’ve all been here.
Sometimes forgiveness doesn’t come immediately. But holding onto our anger and bitterness, only eats away at our soul and happiness. So start with baby steps. Acknowledge the hurt. Commit to moving toward forgiveness. And talk to God about it. Ask Him for help.
We also need to recognize that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are dismissing the pain you may feel. It means, you realize that other person is fallible and you don’t WANT to hold onto the pain. Sometimes with forgiveness comes a shift and the relationship you once had with that person won’t ever be the same. But you can move on and God can heal any relationship.
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38
Generosity. It can be a very personal topic.
Sure, you can and should, give financially to others. But true generosity is a spirit of overall giving of your time, heart and gifts as well as being generous with kindness.
The bible tells us to ‘…give and it will be given to you.’ When you’re giving something of meaning to others, their thankfulness and joy is contagious. Surround yourself with like-minded people and you are in for one heck of a love-fest.
Leave The Worrying To God
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God Philippians 4:6
I know, this is so much easier said than done. But this is a huge key to having a thankful heart. God doesn’t want you to worry. In fact, He tells us specifically not to. That “He’s got this!”
And yet our fragile, human hearts continue to fret and be anxious about so much. How many worrisome days have you spent over-analyzing a situation or being anxious about something? No matter what the outcome, you won’t get that time you spent worrying back.
But there is a better way. It’s when we truly let go of the things most precious to our hearts and hand them over to God that we find peace. And in that peace, the ability to be thankful comes much more easily.
Be a Servant
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
Early on in my marriage, my husband and I got some advice from one of our friends and mentors. That advice was to “be a servant.” If you are both focused on nurturing a servant’s heart, you’re putting each other first. And that’s a recipe for success in any relationship, but especially in your marriage. Get more tips for a healthy marriage here.
The world has set plenty of value on serving self rather than on serving others. There’s a reason the self-help industry is a $10 billion a year business (yes, that’s “billion” with a “B”).
God wants us to serve each other. He sent Jesus to be the example for us. There is joy in serving others. It not only fosters gratitude, but it also allows you to focus less on your own problems (remember that worry thing we just talked about?).
We can make the choice to live with a thankful heart every day, but we do have to be intentional. Starting with these 7 tips can put you on the path. And that is something to be thankful for.
Do you have more ways you try to live every day with a thankful heart? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear them!