Without gratitude, there’s no moving forward in life. Being thankful is paramount for growth and prosperity. True prosperity requires a prosperous soul. 3 John 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. Too many get that backwards. There’s plenty of evidence, which includes stories of some of the rich and famous. They have money, fame and even power; and yet, they’re destitute spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Why else are a number of them addicted to drugs, alcohol or have whatever adverse dispositions that plague them? Why did some who seemed to have it all commit suicide? Their soul did not prosper first!
Keep in mind that having a lot of money only magnifies who you are at your core. In that sense, it doesn’t really change you. If you were generous before wealth, you will exhibit generosity on a higher level with it. You are generous in either place. If you were a jerk before wealth, you’ll be a bigger jerk afterward. The character has to change; not the amount you possess. Having riches will not make one more generous or content for that matter. That being said, if someone cannot be grateful with “little,” do you really expect him or her to be grateful with more?
Spiritually speaking, being discontent along with murmuring and complaining holds you back from true prosperity. Since the spiritual precedes the physical, it impedes all areas of life. That in a sense, translates into deficit spending. Most are familiar with the Exodus story in which the children of Israel were stuck in the wilderness 40 years before entering into the Promise land. The unbelief of the first generation caused them to constantly murmur and complain, and in the end, they died in the desert without seeing it (see Hebrews 3:1-19). In essence, being discontent reveals lack of faith and even resentment towards God. So yes, it stops the blessings from coming.
But, let’s look on another level. Gratitude opens creativity. Thankfulness makes room for peace which effects the whole person (spirit, soul, mind and body). It changes the chemistry of the body which influences the mind’s ability to function. Emotionally, it stabilizes the signals from the brain to the body. How do you typically feel when you’re at peace? How do you physically feel if you get all worked up? How many times have you heard people say they lost their appetite after getting upset? Perhaps, you’re one. Being discontent breeds frustration and anxiety, which in turn releases negative chemicals into the body. Your health is probably more effected by your spiritual, mental and emotional disposition than anything else. Without a prosperous soul, health is in jeopardy. When do you think the best, when you’re sick or when you’re healthy? It’s somewhat cyclical. When a person’s spirituality takes a nose dive, the rest tends to crash along with it.
Who tends to get the promotions or rewards: those who murmur and complain? Hardly! Ironically, they like to gripe about those who have favor. Incidentally, more than likely, the ones with favor practice gratitude. God loves thankfulness, and He has lot to say about it. Read your Bible and find the passages of Scripture that talk about it. Then look up the ones pertaining to the opposite. The difference is a stark reality. Promotion comes from above. As an employer, who would you prefer to promote, the one who is grateful or the whiner? That pretty much underscores how favor is affected by thankfulness. Complaining really doesn’t get you very far. Oh sure, you might wear someone down by constantly griping, but is that the way you want things to come your way? People have a propensity to do more for the grateful than the ungrateful. If you find yourself facing opposition or resistance, check your gratitude meter. For some, their lack of it is the reason they’re stuck. If they want to turn things around, a good place to begin is gratitude!
Did you make a decision for Christ? Okay, what does that mean to you? What does that decision entail? Paradigms and choices are connected to the decision. Half-hearted decisions do not make people disciples; although, that may entitle them to call themselves “Christian.” At least in their view. When a true blue decision is made, change takes place. The level of commitment goes up. As a believer, how committed are you? Are you willing to change your way of thinking to conform to His?
Improvements come with thinking differently, and one of those areas of thinking pertains to living well. In other words, some have yet to grant themselves permission to succeed in life. Even though Jesus gave them a new beginning, a fresh start, they don’t live like it. Why? Their thinking hasn’t changed. Granting yourself permission to succeed is connected to worthiness. Why did Jesus die on the Cross and resurrect from the dead? To make you worthy of a new life in which you are reconciled to God. He paid the Ultimate Price for you, making you worthy! That eliminates the “I’m not worthy” garbage. Of course, we all must allow Him to define abundance and success. One thing abundance is not is fear, discontentment and the like. Moreover, it does not embrace loneliness nor encourage neediness. It has no room for self-disdain. On the contrary, it not only calls for loving others, it calls you to love yourself as God loves you. Since, Jesus paid the price, He is worthy of your success in life.
A number of people stay broke because of their choice to remain so. It’s called self-imposed poverty. Because of their thought process, they make decisions that lead them to lack. God is not keeping them down, nor is anyone else. It’s them! As long as they believe they cannot succeed, they will not succeed. What you believe to be true influences your thoughts and actions. Ask yourself this question: did Jesus die in order to keep me down? As ludicrous as that may sound, some actually believe God is punishing them; even though, Jesus came to save them from destruction and give them abundant life. John 10:10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. If I decide to slam my arm in a car door, I hurt myself. God didn’t do that to me, nor did He make me. It was my choice. If I act terribly toward others, and they avoid me as a result, I caused it. God’s not punishing me; I’m punishing myself.
What narratives do you believe concerning yourself? Where did they come from? How do they stack up with the Word of God? Do they contradict what He says and how feels about you? While this is not about getting rich, there is something to consider in relation to wealth. Paul makes a very interesting statement in the book of Philippians.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need (Philippians 4:12-13, NASB)
It seems by and large, many believers are prepared to suffer need, but how many are ready to be content with abundance and prosperity? Neither of these conditions are sinful; however, it is not a mandate to live in either one. The context is being content where ever you may find yourself. Again, the issue is not money itself. But having said that, can you do more with little money or having much of it? Another aspect of abundant living isn’t necessarily the amount of resources you have at your disposal; it’s how resourceful you are with what you do have. Generally speaking, those who self-sabotage are not very resourceful. They tend to lose or destroy what little they may have. God has given believers abilities beyond their natural capacity. There are reasons for this. How much more effective could they be for the Kingdom if they would stop holding themselves down. The Cross of Christ opened a door for you to make better decisions and choices. If you don’t believe that, answer this question: why would we be told to ask God for wisdom if we lacked it (see James 1:6). Why would He give people the ability to get wealth, if He didn’t want them to have it (see Deuteronomy 8:18)? Going further, what’s grace all about? Jesus is worthy of your success, whatever that looks like!
Which are you more invested in, your future or your past? Those vested in the past are more apt to neglect their future and tend to be less clear about the road ahead. For those of you who may fit in this category, what holds your attention the most? Is it some failure, or perhaps a wound you suffered years ago? Do you cling to the pain and resentment attached to either of these? Some love to sing an old sad song in hope others will join in with them. Whatever it may be, these sorts of things can hold you back from a bright future.
One aspect of your mind that you may not have considered is part of its design is self-defense. It seeks to protect you from further pain. Its playing defense can be good, but it can also be a detriment. It’s wonderful when your mind helps you not make the same mistake more than once. On the other hand, it can take you down the road of fear and anxiety if you let it. Yes, it’s permissive. You have more control over your thoughts than you might believe. Sometimes it’s not a traumatic event in itself that causes the most pain; it’s the interpretation of it that becomes the real problem. That’s not to diminish the event; however, seeing it improperly could make it worse.
When raw emotions are at play, things involved such as motives could be easily misunderstood. For instance, if you see yourself as a victim, you would be more apt to view something done unintentionally as being very intentional. One might develop an inner narrative that says, “Trust no one!” Ironically, some develop such a victim mentality they become over dependent on others. So much so, they cannot even make their own decisions. Communities require interdependence to survive. By and large, interdependency requires people to be independent to work properly. Each of us have strengths and weaknesses, which means we should be able to bear one another’s burdens. Life is much easier when we can rely on each other. Becoming an isolationist due to lack of trust can impede you from becoming your best version.
Hebrews 10:24-25And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Countless individuals miss opportunities that could propel them forward in life. They simply will not take the risk, no matter how well it’s planned out. Others fail to develop relationships that would be mutually beneficial. For some it’s fear, for others it’s old fashioned self-sabotage. They refuse to change their thinking because they feel they deserve to suffer. They continue to believe a lie from their past, which they allow to shape who they are. They become comfortable with failure.
God never intended anyone to be stuck in their past, even if it was grand. No none is supposed to live in fear. Why did Jesus come? Here’s what He said:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:14-18).
Contrary to what many believe, emotional healing is not meant to be long and drawn out. Of course, a number of people have made a lot money on the premise of long and drawn out. In relation to the manifestation of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12, it makes a very interesting phrase: “to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit” (verse 9). Gifts is plural which indicates healing for the whole person, including the mind and emotions. The word, saved, in the Greek (SOZO) is also rendered healed (as in “By Whose stripes ye were healed” [1 Peter 2:24]), and it does indeed mean healing for the entire person. You do not have to hang onto the junk. By His grace you can let it go. Instead of focusing on a past that doesn’t even belong you, perhaps focus on being who God says you are. Learn from the past, put on the new man indeed (see Ephesians 4:24), and move onto the abundant life He intended for you. Change your thoughts, change your life. It’s called repentance.
Frustration is attached to expectation and personal agenda. Obviously, if expectations aren’t met or plans seem thwarted, frustration is not far behind; unless of course, you’ve learned the art of letting go. Before touching on the art, consider how you might look at expectations and agendas. You can plan for the future, do everything in your power to ensure its success, which includes saying no to people and things when appropriate; but ultimately, you cannot plan or control the outcome. It’s simply not in your power. To be sure, visions and dreams come to fruition, but the road to their fulfillment typically doesn’t look the same as we envision. In many instances, the end product doesn’t even match what we imagined. In relation to your personal agenda, you may want to compare notes with God to see if it’s in alignment with His perfect will. Some have the wrong agenda, and since they’re so fixated on it, they’re frustrated because nothing is going their way. Some may actually be thwarting God’s purposes for them, and that is a miserable place to be! The more you seek to be in control, the more frustrated you will become.
The art of letting go comes down to one word: surrender! Contrary to what some might tell you, you are not your own (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Sure, you can do as you please, since you do have a will. But if you misuse it, it will cost you. Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). That means doing things His way and that leads to peace. Move out of His ways, and peace may elude you. Remember, true peace and joy are components of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), which means submission is required.
Can you lay your agendas at His feet? Sure you can, His grace enables you to do just that. Perhaps a better way to frame the question is, will you lay them at His feet?
One more thing about expectation: if you don’t want to be frustrated or disappointed with people, quit trying to make them live up to your expectations. Heck, you can’t even live up to them! Why would you ask someone to do or be something that you cannot do yourself? Perfection is unattainable, which means perfectionism is the way of frustration. Give others the freedom to be their selves. They are not designed to be like you, much less, live up your expectations.