20. The Fertile Soil of a Grateful Heart

THE FERTILE SOIL OF A GRATEFUL HEART

 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,  that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”

  -2 Corinthians 8:9

The legend is told of a man who found the barn where Satan kept seeds to be sown in the human heart.  There were seeds of “Anger”, “Lust”, “Greed”, “Fear”, “Bitterness”,  “Jealousy”,  “Deceit”, “Violence”, “Dishonesty”, “Fear”, “Confusion”, and many, many more!  But as the man looked around the barn it quickly became obvious that most numerous seed in his arsenal were the seeds of “Discouragement”.  When he inquired as to why this was so, his guide told him it was because the seeds of “discouragement” could grow almost anywhere.

The word “almost” intrigued the man. When he pressed for a further explanation the guide reluctantly told him there was one place were the seeds of discouragement would never grow.

“And where is that?’ asked the man.

The guide sadly replied, “In the heart of a grateful man.”

Discouragement is one of Satan’s most powerful tools in the life of a Christian. A family, church or other organization filled with discouraged Christians soon loses its’ sense of vision and ministry in the larger community. Without vision nothing of significance is ever accomplished for the Kingdom of God. Therefore it would seem obvious that maintaining an attitude of gratitude is essential to our effectiveness, both as individuals and as a collective group of Christian leaders.

We may be living in tough economic times, but we still have an abundance of things for which to be grateful. Our commitment to ministry, the expansion of our partnerships, or our vision for the future should never be based on what we “don’t have”, but rather in gratitude for what we already enjoy!

If we really stop to think about it, we are an incredibly blessed people. God has already given us far more than we need or deserve. Like the old hymn suggests, we would all be amazed if we really would “count our blessings and name them one by one.”  The natural response of anyone taking such an inventory is to want to give something back.

Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you often seem to spend too much time considering what you don’t have, what hasn’t worked, how things could have been better, or what you need to reach that next mythical plateau. When we realize we’re not there yet, we can become discouraged and see nothing but the obstacles around us.  That can kill momentum, exorcise enthusiasm, and bring any progress we’ve already made to a screeching halt.

Effective ministries are always financed by gratitude. Coercion, guilt, obligation and pressure never really work. Effective ministry grows out of the fertile soil of a grateful heart. Satan’s seeds of discouragement can’t take root there, but God’s seeds of generosity and sacrifice always do. That’s why money is never really the problem. Rather, the problem is often a lack of sincere gratitude for what we already have and how we can use those resources to accomplish all that God want us to accomplish.

We’re human….I get that!! We are subject to the mood swings of our emotions and impacted by the circumstances of our life.  There are experiences that can naturally lift us up and others that can almost inevitably beat us down.  But in the midst of all the ups and downs of life, we do have some control over the “soil condition” in our heart.

Satan will certainly try to plant seeds of discouragement into our lives…..along with all of his other life-stealing seeds. But we have some control over which of those seeds actually take root!   While Satan is out to destroy us by any means possible, we have a God who personally loves us and has promised to walk with us through anything.  His blessings can be ours even in the midst of life’s darkest moments.  Gratitude does not need to be forced or contrived if we really consider all that God has done for us.

I don’t want to give my enemy a foothold.   Satan may try to plant those seeds of discouragement into my heart, but my prayer is that God will give me a heart of gratitude so that they can’t take root!

I wonder, what’s the soil condition of our hearts telling us?