Ellen Painter Dollar has an excellent post on gratitude, how it is misunderstood, and what it should look like in the lives of God’s people:
The danger for the Christian of today’s slickly marketed gratitude is that it tempts us to aim primarily for our own happiness and satisfaction. And Christianity has never been about making ourselves happy and satisfied. (The Limits of Gratitude.)
Her insights are thought-provoking, and even led me to come up with this thought on how we should not focus on whether others are making us happy, but rather we should focus on the person behind the gift.
That “ubiquitous gratitude” (as Ellen puts it in her post) peddled in supermarket magazines and daytime talk shows can become thoughtless gratitude if the focus is on being grateful and not on the one to whom we should express our gratitude. Gratefulness should extend to the friend who stood by us, the child we delight in, our heavenly Father from whom every perfect gift is given.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights … . (James 1:17.)
True gratitude focuses on the giver, not the gift. Ultimately, that giver of anything good in your life is God himself. Expressing your gratitude to someone other than God for a good gift given is fine when done alongside your gratitude to God for being the original source of such gifts. In fact, telling that person of your gratitude is not only fine but godly in that it blesses them.
As the Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35.) It is a blessing to give thanks for what you have received as well.