Think on one virtue that, more than any other, leads to happiness and why is that?
As for me, I believe that gratitude leads to happiness, and ingratitude leads to darkness, pride and ultimately separation from God. Paul, the Apostle, makes this very point:
21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.- Romans 1:21-23
Ingratitude is the first sin, weakness, failing, lack of wisdom that leads to the rest. It is the tipping point, where you "trip" into the rest. It is as if gratitude propels you towards God and lack of gratitude drives you away! It is the thing, action or lever that you control, that makes you move in one direction or another.
Gratitude helps you deal properly with the good and bad in life. Paul also writes in Philippians:
10But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12I 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. 13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.- Philippians 4:10-13
Paul was content (happy, satisfied) in prosperity and want. Why? He was grateful for what God provided in every circumstance. His happiness was based on his closeness and confidence in God (continually made possible by his gratitude), not how much he had or did not have. His happiness was not based on how well his life was going or how successful his ministry was (he was in prison when he wrote Philippians). His happiness was directly related to his personal relationship with God and that relationship was a close one because Paul continually gave thanks for everything in his life: great, small, hard, easy.
So, let us give thanks for this food, this day, this family, and everything else in our lives, so that through grateful hearts we may grow closer and closer to God who promises us eternal happiness and joy in Christ.
As Paul says in Ephesians:
15Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;- Ephesians 5:15-20
- What one event, person or attitude leads you to personal unhappiness? Why?
- How would the ideas in this lesson help you if applied?
- Name three things, people or events in your life that bring you happiness today. Give thanks for these.