The Most Underrated Way to Grow Closer to God

A year ago, I moved to my dream city. I had close friends, an incredible job, and freedom like never before.

Then why did that same, vicious thought sneak in:

I am not satisfied.

I understand when these thoughts swoop in when I’m going through difficult times. But why was I feeling the same thing now that I had all these things I thought I wanted? Financial freedom, status, relationships, career—I had what I wanted, why wasn’t I satisfied?

I had two major issues.

I already knew the first: only God can satisfy the longings of my soul. I could have all of these great things taken away from me and still be perfectly satisfied as long as I had God. But it wasn’t like I was neglecting my relationship with God. I wasn’t putting those things above Him.

But, I also had a second issue: ingratitude.

My younger self would have been blown away if he knew I had all of these remarkable gifts and I wasn’t even the least bit grateful. Independence? A career? Amazing friendships?  And you aren’t thankful?

This isn’t just another sappy #givethanks post. Ingratitude blinded me from the greatest time of my life. Gratitude gave me the freedom to appreciate my life. I never gave it the respect it deserved.

Gratitude is the most underrated, yet powerful way to holiness.

Thanksgiving recognizes the truth of the situation. In my case, I don’t deserve any of these great things. Yet God gifted them to me so I could love Him and my neighbor.

Let’s look at a few key ways gratitude can transform our spiritual lives.

Gratitude fills our hearts with love for others

I struggle to hate someone after I thank God for them. Believe me, I’ve tried. When we thank God for someone’s existence and their good qualities, we take on the mind of Christ.

On the Cross, Jesus saw more than just our sins: He saw our great potential to love. It takes a full and creative soul to find the positives in someone.

Gratitude swiftly floods our minds and hearts with charity. When with others, start with gratitude.

Gratitude is contagious and persuasive

I don’t know about you, but I prefer spending time with people who exude a gratitude-fueled joy. They appreciate life and all of its gifts. If they’re thankful, they’re likely loving you well, too.

Carrying a grateful heart will naturally melt bitterness away from everyone nearby. If you’re looking to change someone’s heart, your attractive perspective will change them more than any kind of logic or argument alone.

Gratitude means you think and behave like Jesus Himself. Others who meet you will follow suit.

Gratitude leads to humility and a hatred of sin

Like gratitude, humility recognizes the truth of the situation. When we ponder the Gift Giver, we quickly realize we don’t deserve these graces.

We realize we have amazing lives. We realize that He loves us.

Rather than hating sin because our boring, Sunday school teacher told us to hate it, we hate it out of love. I no longer have to calculate and bargain with how close to the line I can get with sin. I truly desire to stay away from anything that would hurt the One who has loved me so deeply.

Gratitude corrects our relationship with God and motivates to stay close to Him for the right reason: love.

How can I be more thankful today?

My favorite times to grow a habit connect to our daily moments:

  • When you wake up, thank God for the gift of life and a new day.
  • When you eat, thank God for your food and drink.
  • When you go to sleep, thank God for the specific blessings you received that day.

Start with these little, daily moments and let thanksgiving become a habit.

Once you begin sustainably thanking God each day, try some less obvious places for gratitude:

  • For the ways our pains and difficulties in life helped us grow
  • For the smallest things in life
  • For the graces in our life that we don’t know about

Don’t we all want to be deeply satisfied and joyful? And don’t we already spend too much of our time complaining about what we don’t have?

Gratitude is the key to cleaning out our hearts and seeing how good life really is. Even better, this joyful life spreads to everyone we meet.

I desire an abundantly joyful life with God, so I’m going to keep thanking God. How about you?

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Trevor Jin
Trevor works for FOCUS as a Formation Specialist, writing and creating videos.

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