Although gratitude and thankfulness are closely related, they are NOT synonymous.
Thankfulness is like a warm, fuzzy, comfortable sweater, while gratitude symbolizes a sincere loving heart.
Enroute to Jerusalem, our Savior met 10 lepers in a village. The lepers, who stood away from others, cried for mercy from the Master.
Jesus healed and cleansed all the lepers; however, only one expressed gratitude. “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks.”
Jesus then taught us about true gratitude by asking, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?”
Nine were thankful for being relieved of this dreadful, infectious disease; however, only one expressed sincere gratitude.
More than 20 years have elapsed since President Gordon B. Hinckley taught the youth of our Church the 6 B’s. He listed Be Grateful first, followed by Be Smart, Be Clean, Be True, Be Humble, and Be Prayerful.
President Hinckley advised, “Thank the Lord for His goodness to you. Thank the Almighty for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who has done for you what none other in all this world could do.
“Thank Him for His great example, for His tremendous teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help. Think about the meaning of His Atonement.”
Practicing gratitude benefits others. When we practice gratitude, we rely on the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit to stay positive and remain appreciative in all circumstances.
Expressing true gratitude improves long-term relationships with our friends, family, co-workers, and others we come in contact with.
“You may feel thankful to someone at the moment, but gratitude is an ongoing showing of appreciation in your relationships. Practicing gratitude in your relationships will bring you closer to the ones you love,” writes Dr. James A. Greene, founder of Psychiatric Medical Care.
The geriatric medical doctor and writer offers these practical tips to develop gratitude:
1. Start a gratitude journal. The key is consistent journaling, rather than appearance or length.
2. Begin a meditation practice. Finding time to meditate for even a brief period daily can have a tremendous effect on your well-being.
3. Volunteer. Helping others reminds us of all we enjoy and brings instant gratitude to our souls.
4. Spend time with loved ones. We can then draw upon this bank of gratitude memories during challenging times.
5. Give to others. Find things in your home that you no longer use and donate them to a local family, charity, or thrift store.
The word of God through the writings of the Apostle Paul gives clear instruction on expressing gratitude to God.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:15-17 KJV).
Gratitude is a consistent attitude of appreciation, while quickly saying “thanks” is often an immediate emotional response.
Are we sometimes thankful with our words, when it would be better to be grateful by our actions?
This Thanksgiving season, I express my gratitude to God for the perfect life and eternal sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and pray that my words of thanks will more frequently develop into sincere gratitude.
Charlie Roberts is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Stansbury Park