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Sep 10, 2008

Do You Show Gratitude

After the Savior healed the ten of leprosy, He was approached by one who, returning fell upon his face giving thanks and praise. “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger,” (Luke 17: 17-18). Although the man was a Samaritan, despised stranger to the Jews, this cleansed leper illustrated a vital principle that each who is seeking to return to God should cultivate. The principle is that of gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the abundance of blessings we receive from His hands.

In this world of instant gratification, the daily expression of gratitude to God is often considered inconvenient. However, there is a hidden blessing for the one who constantly praises the Lord for His goodness. This blessing is the maintaining of the proper perspective in one’s relationship with deity. Whether it is in silent prayer or vocal rejoicing, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD,” as it is He from whom all blessings flow (Psalms 92:1). Even the Savior gave thanks to His Heavenly Father for hearing His prayers, as such was the case prior to raising Lazarus from the dead (see John 11: 41-42).

Although it may appear that we are sacrificing precious time and energy in giving God praise, the plethora of other blessings that we in turn receive is worth far more. Since our Heavenly Father already knows our prayers before they are offered, through the simple act of listing and enumerating what we are grateful for, our relationship with Him deepens and our appreciation for His blessings increases. In the words of a familiar hymn “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done,” (LDS Hymn #241).

However, our expressions of gratitude are not limited to giving praise to God. The Savior taught “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” (Matthew 25: 40). The message behind the teaching is clear: if we truly love the Lord and want to show our gratitude, then we will give service to our fellowmen. Something interesting happens to a person as he or she goes about helping others. Although a sacrifice is undoubtedly made, it is soon forgotten as the needs of others take precedent over personal needs. Indeed one’s perspective changes from inward to outward, because another’s needs become more important.

The result is a realization of how greatly blessed we are and a desire within us to share these blessings with those less fortunate. Thus, our gratitude for our Heavenly Father grows as our realization of our dependence on Him increases through a change in perspective.

However, more important than what we say or what we do is who we are. If one truly wishes to be grateful, then an “attitude of gratitude” must be a priority. If such an attitude is cultivated, then it will resonate throughout one’s whole frame. Giving service and expressions of gratitude will become natural, because our perspective will have changed from egocentric to God-pleasing. Of course, such a path is difficult; but the blessings that are given in exchange for a life lived in gratitude makes it worthwhile. Jesus Christ set the perfect example for us, and it is His life we should seek to emulate. Thus the verse that we should “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he [God] doth bestow upon,” us (Alma 34: 38 in The Book of Mormon).

Now I wish that the reader would indulge me the opportunity and privilege to express my gratitude for the blessing in the publishing of these articles. As a missionary, we are often reassigned to work in different locations, based upon the desires of our Heavenly Father. Like tumbleweed we roll wherever the Lord desires for us to go without explicitly knowing the path that lies before us. Such is the case for me as I conclude this final article in the hopes that I have done all that the Lord has required me to do.

I am sincerely grateful for the blessed opportunity I have had to serve in the Acton-Agua Dulce area for the past six months. I have met so many people who have shaped my life for the better that it would be impossible for me to list all of them here. Suffice it to say that I am grateful for my Agua Dulce Ward (congregational) family, who have become an integral part of my life and my extended family. I love each of you and will deeply miss you, as you have been one of my greatest blessings as a missionary. I would also personally like to thank Ms. Lillian Smith for her outstanding support our Constitutional Rights in the publishing of these articles against immense opposition. The Lord will surely bless you for it. Thank you.

Finally, I am grateful to everyone else who has taken a moment of his or her time to read this or any other article, which I have previously written. The transfusion of information has excelled at such a rate that Guttenberg could surely never have imagined when he invented moveable type. It has made it possible for you to read this message and to compare it to the knowledge and values you already have. If I have influenced any for the better, then I have succeeded as a writer. May God forever bless you as you continue seeking to know His will and follow His ways.

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