Focus on Gratitude: With All Your Being

Right about now is when New Year’s resolutions start to flounder.

It’s been a few weeks… maybe you started off strong and enthusiastic, but you aren’t quite seeing any results yet. Or maybe life is getting too busy again, and your “need-to’s” are over-powering your “want-to’s.”

Sound about right?

One of my resolutions goals for this year is to focus on gratitude. In fact, I jumped on the “one word” bandwagon and made it my keyword for 2013. I want to be more grateful. I want to have a heart of thankfulness… in all things and for all things. I want that to define me — just like being a Christian and a wife defines me.

But life has gotten pretty busy again (not that it ever wasn’t!). Routines have taken over. Energy has floundered. And I have to admit to y’all, I haven’t been keeping up with some things. I’ve missed a few days writing in my blessings book. And I haven’t even opened my new book about Choosing Gratitude.

Tell me I’m not the only one?

But here’s the thing: gratitude is not something to be ignored!

It should not be pushed to the side, saved to work on later, or anything like that. Gratitude is commanded of us, and that means failure to pursue gratitude is sin. Remember James’ statement? If you know you should do something, and you don’t, then you’re committing sin.

So I can’t ignore my blessings book. You can’t ignore that thankfulness lists you keep meaning to start. Not if you want to pursue gratitude.

But here’s the other thing: you’ll only grow in gratitude if you put your heart into it. It can’t be just another task to cross off your to-do list each day. You can’t just pay “lip service” to being thankful, and expect lasting change. Consider the first verse of Psalm 103:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me bless His holy name.”

That little phrase tucked in the middle of the verse is the most convicting part — all that is within me. That means every single part of your being, both physical and spiritual, is to be involved in praising God (showing gratitude to Him and for Him).

As one of my college professors used to say, “all means all.” It means your mind, your heart, your hands, your speech, your attitude, your emotions, your responses… need I go on?

No part of your being can skimp on praising God. Consider what two Biblical commentators, Matthew Henry and Albert Barnes, have to say about it:

We make nothing of our religious performances if we do not make heart-work of them,
if that which is within us, nay, if all that is within us, be not engaged in them.
The work requires the inward man, the whole man, and all little enough.

The idea is, that God is worthy of all the praise and adoration which the entire man can render.
No one of his faculties or powers should be exempt from the duty and the privilege of praise.

In other words, all means all. Blessings books, and books about gratitude, and even thankfulness lists are all good — but your heart must be in them. Lip service (or “keyboard” service) just won’t cut it.

Gratitude is a whole-being thing. {<– click to tweet!}

So how does that look in the everyday? Let’s think about it:

  • serve Him joyfully with your hands
  • speak His praise with your lips
  • obey Him willingly with your feet (ie, where you go)
  • listen lovingly with your ears — and your heart!
  • obey Him with your eyes (ie, what you look at or watch)
  • submit to His conviction in your spirit
  • refuse to complain in your mind — and replace it with thankfulness
  • honor Him in your emotional responses

 What else can you think of?




FOR YOU: Take a moment to write down some specific ways that you can praise God with your whole being. Make it personal to your life, your calling, your responsibilities.

And share what you’re grateful for in the comments!


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5 thoughts on “Focus on Gratitude: With All Your Being

  1. Love that Mathew Henry quote! And I’ve heard really great things about the Choosing Gratitude book! Great reminder!

    1. Thanks Johanna!

  2. I’m thankful for this beautiful, slow day, and what God has taught me about time.

  3. I know that gratitude has made a huge difference in my life as I’ve made the commitment to be intentional about finding God’s blessings. I love solving mysteries so whenever there’s a trial in my life, I look for the way God might want to bless me in that. It’s like solving a mystery! Thanks so much for your encouragement to be grateful. Your words inspire me to more thankfulness, Elizabeth!

    1. That’s a great correlation, Beth! I love mysteries too… will have to remember that! Thanks 🙂

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