The spiritual person is the one who is grateful for everything. He is the one who receives everything with thanksgiving, and who knows that he has nothing except what he has received from God (cf. Jn 3.27).
And from His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace (Jn 1.16).
In the Old Testament, thanksgiving was central in the life of God’s people. The temple liturgy offered sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise, and psalms sang continually of thanksgiving to God. Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His Holy Name.
(Pss 30.4, 95.2, 92.1, 107.1).
In the New Testament, thanksgiving is the very essence of the Church’s life. The word eucharist means thanksgiving, and the very center of the Church’s liturgical worship of God is when, in remembrance of all His saving acts in Christ, the faithful “lift up their hearts” and “give thanks unto the Lord.”
The apostolic scriptures and the lives of the saints abound with thanksgiving to God for all things.
(Eph 5.4, 20).
(1 Thess 5.16–18).
Jesus (Phil 4.4–7).
The spiritual person has thanksgiving and gratitude in all circumstances, in everything and for everything. This thanksgiving is rooted in the firm conviction of God’s merciful providence and care in all things, in the steadfast faith that “God works in everything for good with those who love Him” or, as the passage may also be rendered, “everything works together for good with those who love God” (Rom 8.28).
The spiritual teachers, especially Saint John Chrysostom (4th c), are very strict in this teaching. The spiritual man does not thank God only for what he considers to be good. Rather, he thanks God for everything, even for what appears to be bad, knowing that God’s tender care is over all, and that the evil in this world—which is always present and inevitable (cf. Jn 17)—can itself be the vehicle for spiritual growth and salvation if rightly understood and overcome by the grace of God.
The opposite of gratitude is bitterness and complaining; it is bemoaning one’s lot in life because of pride and covetousness. It is caused by the absence of humble trust in the Lord. It is rooted in an attitude of life which does not allow the person to exclaim with the righteous Job:
To thank God in everything and for everything is the result of faith and faithfulness in God. It is the result of absolute trust in the Lord who knows best what we need for our salvation and does all that He can within the evil conditions of the world to bring us to eternal life, to peace and to joy. It is the product of believing, with Isaiah, the Word of the Redeemer who says:
(Is 54.7–8, 55.8–9, 56.1).
A person is grateful to the extent that he trusts in the Lord and has love for God and man.
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