I have a confession to make. From time to time I find myself irritated by other people. Now, you are probably not like me, but on the off chance that there are others who experience this sort of thing, I have good news! There is something that you can do about it. Consider using gratitude as a weapon against sinful aggravation and irritation in your relationships with others.
A Biblical Example
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he greets them with these words:
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, (1 Corinthians 1:4)
This is an amazing statement for Paul to make because as the letter continues we find that this church has some serious problems. The church is dealing with things like sexual immorality, spiritual pride, and chaotic church gatherings. Surely Paul had reasons to be aggravated with this church but instead, we find…gratitude! What can explain Paul’s gratitude? It was an awareness of the grace of God at work in the lives of the people that had been entrusted to his care. He tells them “I give thanks to God…because of the grace of God that was given you.” Paul was aware that because of the Gospel, God’s grace was at work in the Corinthian church and this awareness led to a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving.
How Does It Work?
Paul’s example is instructive and we are called to imitate this biblical perspective. In order to serve you, here are some suggestions on how to cultivate gratitude as a means of putting sinful aggravation and irritation to death when we experience these things in our interactions with others.
Ask yourself: “How is God’s grace at work in the life of this fellow believer?” The Bible gives us many ways to evaluate the way God is at work in the lives of others. Take some time to review the gifts of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and lists of spiritual gifts such as Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12. Prayerfully reflect on how God is at work in this person’s life (he definitely is) and note specific evidences of God’s gracious activity.
Commit yourself to gratitude in 3 ways:
Express Your Gratitude Privately – Having recognized God’s grace in the life of your fellow Christian, prayerfully thank God for His activity in their lives and ask God to change your heart from aggravation to appreciation.
Express Your Gratitude Personally – As you interact with your brother or sister, share with them how you see the grace of God at work in their lives and express your gratitude in order to encourage them and glorify God.
Express Your Gratitude Publicly – Look for opportunities to share with others how you see God at work in the life of your brother or sister and share your gratitude for God’s gracious activity in their lives.
If we want to glorify God in our church community, we are called to cultivate an awareness of God’s grace in the lives of others and a heart of gratitude for his gracious activity. When we wield the weapon of gratitude against sinful aggravation and irritation we put to death that which fails to honor God (and makes us miserable) and we find our hearts expanding with affection towards others. May God make us a grateful church!
Go Deeper – Suggested Reading
Practicing Affirmation – Sam Crabtree
Choosing Gratitude – Nancy Leigh DeMoss