Have you ever heard the expression "gratitude is an attitude." Perhaps like me when you heard it, you filed it away as an unsophisticated cliche', suitable for a bumper sticker, but not for much else. But you know, the thing about cliche's is that they are often true. That's why we remember them in the first place. And the truth of the matter is that gratitude is an attitude of personal choice.
Gratitude is not a feeling, although feelings of gratitude are often appropriate. True gratitude is a way of living. It comes from the way in which we see ourselves in relation to God, and then to the world around us. If we truly believe that life itself is a gift freely given, and from that that everything we have is a gift, from the greatest to the trivial, from breath, to shelter, to food, to the shoes on our feet, then we will live our lives gratefully, in thanksgiving, seeking to make whatever return we can for the things that we have been given. BUT if I am not grateful, then I will not even think of giving back. And by the same token, if giving back never occurs to me, or if I do it begrudgingly, then obviously I am not very grateful.
My friends, it is not until we understand, to quote from our burial office, that "you are dust and unto dust you shall return", that we will be grateful. When we begin to understand that nothing, and I mean nothing is owed to us, then we will be grateful. When we begin to understand that everything, in truth, belongs to God, then we will be grateful. When we begin to understand that Jesus Christ died for our sins, then we will be grateful... and then we will live, and move, and have our being in a spirit of gratitude.
If you want to know the key to a happy and successful life, this is it. If you'd like a piece of the abundant life that Jesus promises us, this is it. Indeed, if you don't find your life to be abundant and joyful, it is inevitably because you are not very grateful. Gratitude comes from understanding who we are, who God is, and the nature of the subsequent relationship. Let me say one last time, gratitude is not a feeling, it is a choice. So today, choose wisely.