Where Gratitude Will Take You
The Bible has a lot to say about a thankful heart and having an attitude of gratitude. But there are many stories within the Bible that illustrate this principle without actually using the terms “thankfulness” or “gratitude.” In looking at those who have lived a lifestyle of gratitude we learn something very interesting. We learn that gratitude can take you where you never intended to go.
This falls under the law of unintended consequences and the consequences are always good! Let’s take, as an illustration, the book of Ruth. Ruth was not born of Jewish decent, but was of the people of Moab. However, she ended up meeting a Jewish man and married him and then subsequently became a widow. Ruth’s brother in law also married a Moabite woman and he eventually died also. The mother, Naomi, when she became a widow decided to travel back to her homeland and told her two daughter-in-laws to stay among their people, remarry, and rebuild their lives.
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This is where we start seeing a difference in the attitude of Ruth, which is an attitude of gratitude. After much discussion Orpah (the sister-in-law) departed to start her new life, but Ruth said, “…Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.” (Ruth 1:16-18 - KJV)
When I read the Bible I like to try and get into the minds of the people I’m reading about. Why would anyone do what Ruth did? What was Ruth’s expectation? How did Ruth view the remaining days of her life? If I am to take each of these questions in order I would think Ruth did this because of her love for Naomi. During the time that she had know her mother-in-law she was so impacted by her that she didn’t want to leave her side. In other words, she was so thankful that her thankfulness created an attitude of debt to her mother-in-law. She now has an expectation of serving her mother-in-law. She was going to stay with her, not because she expected the old lady to take care of her, but it was now time for her to take care of her aging mother. Therefore, Ruth viewed the remaining time of her life as a widow woman taking care of her mother-in-law for as long as she lived.
If you are familiar with the story of Ruth you know that her story doesn’t end anything like this. Even though we don’t see Ruth trying to do anything except that of a thankful daughter-in-law, her life is totally changed as the time passes on. What caused this change? I believe it was because of the thankfulness that she possessed. In chapter two we see Ruth going to work to bring provision into the household. She finds favor in the eyes of the land owner and she, “Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? (Ruth 2:10- KJV)
What I see in this statement is a person who is very thankful for the favor she has found. She doesn’t understand why she is experiencing this favor, but it totally takes her back and she finds herself in total humility. This type of a heart, the kind we find in Ruth, is very rare. Many find themselves complaining or thinking they should have more than life has given them. Ruth on the other hand was joyful with whatever life dealt her. She kept a right heart and remained thankful. In the end, Ruth marries the land owner which is something she never imagined. She also gave birth to a baby boy who was the grandfather of King David and thus became part of the lineage of Christ. This definitely was not something she planned on. Gratitude has an amazing ability to take you place, prosper you, and create open doors that you could never imagine. It would behoove us all to learn from Ruth and develop an attitude of gratitude.