“If you’re already one of those highly grateful people, stop reading this essay—you don’t need it. I But if you’re more like me, then here are some tips for how you and I can become one of those fantastically grateful people.” – Jeremy Adam Smith
What is the Theology?
For those striving to “be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5: 18; cf. Eph 5:20), Smith’s six practices may be welcomed guidance in shaping gratitude into a habit. Likewise, these practices may provide direction for the preacher who desires to offer practical examples of gratitude in a way that transcends the overly simplistic imperative, “you should try to be more thankful.” As when Jesus grieved the loss of Lazarus, being thankful in difficult times can be complex (Jn. 11:35, 41). Preachers may therefore lean into the complexity of gratitude by demonstrating how science can assist in cultivating the daily embodying of gratitude.
What to Consider
- How might fasting in the Christian tradition connect to Smith’s recognition that giving up/abstaining from certain items can increase our gratitude?
- Consider how prayer can serve a way of “Smelling the Roses,” a key act in making gratitude habitual. How might this article inform the way you pray, for example, around family meals?
- How might Smith’s section on “taking the good things as gifts, not birthrights” interact with your theological understanding of grace?
How to go Deeper
- Practice imagining or living without something/someone that you fear you might take for granted. Reflect and record how your gratitude for that person/event/circumstance, etc. changes over time.
- Encourage your church to simply practice saying “thank you” to one another thereby building relational and communal bonds.
- In building your own habit of gratitude, take the practices of Smith’s article and apply them among your staff and volunteers. How can your habit of gratitude blossom into a culture of gratitude in your church community?
What is the Science? While the benefits of forgiveness are widely supported by two decades of research, a recent study seeks to demonstrate the positive impact of forgiveness within the specific context of [...]
What is the Science? Often the catalyst for receiving forgiveness is offering a good apology. Yet, in her article “The Three Parts of an Effective Apology,” Christine Carter suggests that all apologies are [...]
What is the Science? After victimization, many people desire vengeance. In well-publicized atrocities, such as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing or the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting, prosecutors, the public, and victims’ families [...]
What is the Science? Forgiveness is a difficult thing. It can take a great amount of time and work to arrive at a place where we can let go of hostility and [...]
Which Contributes More to Forgiveness, Sympathy or Free Will?
Article by Michael McCullough (2013)
Read the Full Article
What is the Science? Psychologist Michael McCullough suggests that when humans consider forgiving others they instinctively engage in one of two distinct systems for arriving at forgiveness: sympathy or free will. McCullough argues [...]
What is the Science? Research has long suggested that if a person carries a prolonged grievance they risk adverse health effects. Now, a new study suggests that one’s determination to hold a grudge [...]