You’ve might have said, or heard a friend say, “my heart on this matter is_________”. It doesn’t take a microscopic lens to discern a person’s heart. We shout it from our social media pages and plaster it on t-shirts. What excites us and what concerns us is on full display. It spills out in a million little ways: our speech, our actions, where we spend our time, our money and cast our ballots; who we hang with, and who we don’t; what we are thankful for, and what we don’t appreciate.
Yet contrary to our tendency, Proverbs 4:23 cautions us to “above all else, guard your heart”. That sounds cliché and we love to spill that verse out to sisters who find themselves in relationships that are not to our liking. Yet, this simple verse holds wisdom for us all, especially in an increasingly divisive, charged culture. Our hearts need to be guarded, for sure. But how?
Gratitude. Scripture is replete with calls to gratitude and thankfulness. (71 times in the New Testament) Why? Gratitude is a guard rail for our runaway heart.
When we are grateful for what we have, we are less likely to struggle with discontentment. TLC sang “don’t go chasing waterfalls” back in the early ‘90s, but my anthem is “don’t go chasing discontentment”. We chase and invite discontentment when we lose gratitude for what God has done for us and focus our attention on what we see Him doing for others. But, when our life is rooted in gratitude, we find peace in our circumstances knowing that God is there with us. And, we can even be encouraged by the testimonies of God’s faithfulness to others, rather than be envious of them. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.
A grateful heart combats discontentment, but it also ushers in reasonability and peace. When we are sincerely grateful for the family in which God has placed us, we are less contentious in our dealings with them. When we are grateful for our church body, we are more forgiving when we feel wronged. When we are grateful for the thorns in our flesh that God has allowed, we are more understanding of the weakness in others. And when we love God and others from a place of sincere gratitude, when we are squeezed by the brokenness of the world, the peace of Christ will spill out of us.
This season, let’s lead out with thankfulness and immerse ourselves in gratefulness that will guard our hearts in the days to follow. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful (…) singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Col. 3:15-17
Tasha Calvert is an author, speaker and Bible teacher. She currently serves as the Global Director of Women’s Ministry at Prestonwood, in Dallas, Texas. She is married to Robert and has four daughters and a son-in-law. Connect with her at www.tashacalvert.com