How to Develop a Heart of Thanksgiving

Gratitude as It Relates to Hospitality

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Col. 3:15). Focusing on what I don’t have or what I can’t do is a common detriment to practicing biblical hospitality. If I choose to focus on the negative I will never extend an invitation to others—and home life will probably be pretty bleak for me too!

As I review Psalm 103, Psalm 104, and Psalm 107, as well as 1 Thessalonians 5:18, I am challenged, by an act of my will, to extend thanks to my heavenly Father—regardless of whether I feel like it or not. As I thought of being thankful, in terms of hospitality, I recorded some everyday things that contribute to my developing a heart of thanksgiving:

  • the new heart that I received when I became a Christian (Ezek. 11:19; 2 Cor. 5:17);
  • the variety of opportunities that I have to share my life and skills with others (1 Tim. 6:18–19);
  • the strength to accomplish the event—even when I am sure that I can’t do it (Phil. 4:13);
    the plates as well as the other cooking and serving vessels that I have to prepare for the occasion. They don’t have to be elegant, just consecrated to my Master’s use
    (Phil. 4:19);
  • the opportunities to practice ingenuity with the resources that I possess rather than using a lack of resources as an excuse to disobey my heavenly Father’s instructions
    to offer hospitality (Phil. 4:11);
  • my table and other furnishings that can be used as a tool to offer comfort and refuge to my guests (2 Cor. 1:3–4);
  • my abode—the environment where I am to minister to others so that my heavenly Father’s Word is not discredited (Titus 2:3-5);
  • the linens I have to cover my table and the symbolism of purity that the linen fabric represents. May I be careful to share my excitement of being an invited guest at the marriage supper of the Lamb and thus cultivate an appetite in my guests to join me! (Rev. 15:6, 19:7–10);
  • my ingredients and the prompting to recall the widow of Zarephath who shared what she thought was the last of her ingredients and found that her supply was multiplied supernaturally (1 Kings 17:8–15);
  • my talents—both my financial resources (Matt. 25:14–30) and my natural abilities. I am challenged to cultivate them, and to be excited about learning new ones for my Lord’s glory (Col. 3:17);
  • those individuals who said yes to my invitations, and the reality that only eternity will reveal the impact of the time that I spend with them (Heb. 13:2).

Content in All

A study of the life of Paul reveals that he learned to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself (Phil. 2:11). Because he modeled contentment he is qualified to provide me with a list of character qualities that includes the directive to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16–22). As I consider my response to Paul’s role model I must ask myself if I am a hostess whose prayer list of personal wants expands while my list of thanksgiving decreases, or if I choose to offer thanksgiving each time I have the opportunity to entertain. My response to these questions determines my character as a hostess.

This article is adapted from Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others.

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