Over the last seven days we have talked about four roots that cultivate an ungrateful spirit or a spirit that merely lists the things we are thankful for as a means to get God to listen to our requests and two roots that help us grow a spirit that is truly grateful regardless of our situations. The last two roots I want to talk about are contentment and generosity. In the New Testament we find two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were friends with Jesus. When He and his disciples passed through the town of Bethany (Luke 10:38-42) they stopped at Mary and Martha’s home for dinner. While Martha scurried around preparing and cooking, Mary sat at Jesus feet and listened to Him speak. Mary was content. Martha gets a little bent out of shape (I don’t know about you but I definitely feel for her in this moment) and asks Jesus why He doesn’t command her sister to help her and stop just sitting around. His response in verses 41-42 is one that I think is imprinted on the hearts of people with thankful spirits. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Jesus was basically repeating to Martha what He said in Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” He was telling her to be content, that His presence was sufficient and that everything else was superfluous. Now Jesus knows that we need food and clothing but what He’s saying is that contentment is focusing on Jesus and His presence and trusting that God will provide the rest.
This leads us to the final root of a strong spirit of thankfulness- generosity. In Luke 10 we find Jesus spending time with our favorite sisters again but this time Mary takes her devotion to Jesus a step further. Instead of merely sitting at His feet and listening (while Martha once again serves dinner) Mary makes a generous offering of one of her most prized possessions. “Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume,” John 12:3. Now this might seem kind of crazy from today’s standards- she dumps perfume on Jesus’ feet and then wipes them with her hair?? But at the time the bottle of perfume would have been extremely valuable and meant to last well into Mary’s life, indeed it would have been something she brought with her into marriage as part of her dowry. Also at this time everyone was wearing sandals and Jesus had just come from walking miles on hot dusty roads so odds are His feet needed washing and this would normally have been a task for the lowliest of servants. So by not only humbling herself and washing His feet but also using the perfume meant for her future husband, Mary was being extremely generous. Why was she willing to literally pour out her future onto Jesus’ feet? Because she knew that everything she had was a gift from God and what better way to show her gratitude then by giving some of that blessing back to Him! By being generous with what we have we are focusing our attention on what God focuses His attention on and that can be our way of giving back to Him. Whether that is being generous with our time or our money we all have ways that we can give back to the people that God has placed around us.
So there we have it, I think if we spend the next couple of weeks identifying and digging out the roots of negativity, bitterness, selfishness, and comparison and then spend some time prayerfully asking God to replace them by with new roots of positivity, acceptance, contentment, and generosity we will begin the process of switching our attitudes from one where we are checking the box that tells us that as believers we need to be thankful to one where we truly live each day with a thankful spirit! What do you think your next steps are? Do any of these negative roots strike a chord or do you find yourself needing to focus more on pruning and growing more grateful roots? I would love to hear where you are at in your journey and I’m sure if you keep checking back Hannah and Allie will bring an amazing word about gratitude as we continue through this season of thankfulness!