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Saturday, 13 October 2012

Gratitude: Weakness or Strength

As we pass between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, I’d like to give voice to some things I’ve been pondering about gratitude.
   How can gratitude be viewed as a weakness?
Ø      To be grateful means you need to acknowledge a level of dependence on others.  Some people have a difficult time with this because they consider themselves self-sufficient and in control of their own destinies.
Ø      Niccolò Machiavelli wrote a book entitled The Prince in the early 1500’s.  In it he asserted that a ruler must be feared instead of appreciated because gratitude is a fleeting emotion that is “forgotten the moment it’s inconvenient” (17.5). 
   How is gratitude a strength?
Ø      Being grateful puts you in your proper place.  Humans are interdependent, and gratitude puts a positive spin on that fact.  Expressing gratitude is a key ingredient that causes any relationship to flourish.[1]
Ø      For Christians of the Reformation, our life and good works spring forth from gratitude to Christ, the one who saved us from a life of misery.  We do not live motivated by guilt or fear or the need to earn our way into God’s favour.  Gratitude overflows into service to both God and our fellow human beings.

[1] With thanks to Rev. B. DeJonge for pointing this out in a Thanksgiving Day sermon (October 8, 2012).

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