Although it is only November, my community is starting to put up festive decorations and the blank spaces on my calendar are filling up quickly. A list of gifts for family and friends will soon land me in checkout lines where I will almost certainly be asked perfunctorily, “How are you today?” Most customers will respond innocuously and some will be too preoccupied to respond at all. However, I was recently challenged during a sermon by my local pastor, to reframe these interactions with a novel response: “I’m grateful.”
His sermon focussed on the passage from Luke where Jesus encounters 10 lepers on the road to Jerusalem. They plead for his mercy, and he miraculously heals them, instructing them to go and show themselves to the priests. But 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 practising gratitude? 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.
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 recently by working with Susan (a pseudonym), a woman putting her gratitude into action. With real estate prices in her area soaring, her property sale 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. We 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 her income-tax situation.
Susan blessed more than a dozen charities with generous donations. As she gave in this way, her trust in God increased, and her gratitude with it. She went on to replicate those initial donations twice more, saying it is very fulfilling.
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 practise it. We all have so much to be grateful for each day, so it should be our greatest joy to give our thanks to God.
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.
Marlow Gingerich is a gift-planning consultant at Abundance Canada. For more than 40 years Abundance Canada has effectively helped Canadians with their charitable giving in their lifetime and through their estate. To learn more, visit abundance.ca or call 1-800-772-3257 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.