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I. A DEFINITION OF GRATITUDE
Webster calls gratitude "a feeling of thankful appreciation for
favors or benefits received; warm, appreciative response to
kindness." You need both to have a complete definition. Gratitude
is both an attitude and an action. If you are appreciative but do not
express appreciation, you are not doing others any good. Gratitude
is a quality of a servant who wishes to "show honor where honor is
due," and encourage others when appropriate. He not only feels it -
he expresses it.
I read recently of a native Canadian tribe that had no word
for thanks in their language. Initially I thought how sad. As I read
further I marveled. They had no word for thanks but a wonderful
way of expressing thanks. When anyone did something for them
they simply expressed thanks by doing something nice in return.
That is a marvelous way of expressing gratitude.
There are persons who can accept gifts but not give them.
Persons who can receive a card, but not send them. They can
accept congratulations and thanks but never express it. These
persons are ingrates who are selfish. If that is you, do something
Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God. It is one
the poorest can give and not be made poorer but richer by having
A grateful person is one who can recognize and respond to
the blessings received from others. Some people may be thankful
when they see good reason for it, but they just don't see many
good reasons. They need to open their eyes. Others see many
things for which they are truly thankful; it's just difficult for them to
express it. Either condition is deficient.
Mother Teresa told this story at the National Prayer
Breakfast in 1994:
"One evening we went out and picked up four people from
the street. One was in a most terrible condition. I told the sisters,
'You take care of the other three; I will take ...
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