The Power of 2G (Gratitude & Generosity)

What if I told you that there is something you could try that has been proven to increase heart health, enhance physical well-being, increase the likelihood that you will engage in heathier activities, and help you sleep longer and better?

What if I told you that this same thing has been linked to increased life satisfaction, happiness, subjective well-being, and optimism?

And it helps prevent burnout at work.

And it helps you become a better employee.

And it strengthens relationships—especially marriage and family relationships.

I can hear you now: “Sign me up. Tell me your secret.”

I have good news for you. There’s no sign-up needed.

It is available for anybody and everybody.

It’s called gratitude.

Where does gratitude come from? The answer is largely tied to an absence of entitlement.

To put it bluntly, it’s hard to feel gratitude for things you think you deserve or have earned.

Feeling entitled is almost certain to ensure a lack of gratitude. Believing that we deserve something good can easily lead to disappointment when our expectations aren’t met. Rarely does it ever lead to gratitude.

Imagine a seesaw, with gratitude on one side and entitlement on the other. As one goes up, the other goes down. When you consider what we actually deserve, as sinful creatures, and what we have received by God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice, Christians should be the most grateful and gracious people on the planet. Our hearts should effuse thankfulness.

Romans 3:23 tells us that “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

There’s no exception clause in that verse. “Everyone” means everyone. One hundred percent of humanity. The condition that began in the Garden of Eden continues to this day. We’re all sinners.

And sin comes with consequences.

If we want to talk about entitlement—what we deserve, what we’ve earned—we don’t need to look any further than Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.”

We have earned death. We deserve death. Not a nice house. Not a full bank account. Not an exotic vacation. Not an incredible pair of shoes or an expensive car.


What that means is that anything we receive that isn’t death is reason for gratitude. Every good thing—from your morning cup of coffee to your family, job, health, home—is an undeserved gift from God.

But wait, there’s more. There is a tiny, little conjunction—but—in Romans 6:23, and what follows that conjunction changes everything: “but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We are given a “free gift” through the work of Jesus. Because of his sacrifice, we are no longer condemned to death but have been gifted an eternal relationship with God. In the span of a single verse, we went from death to eternal life. Not because of anything we did, but because Jesus did everything.

Once we realize that we are entitled to nothing, we are freed up to be grateful for everything. As Paul said to the Christians in Corinth, “What do you have that God hasn’t given you?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

When you consider that we have been given eternal life instead of the death we deserve, our gratitude should know no bounds.

According to the book of James, God is the giver of all good things (James 1:17). God certainly gave us the ultimate gift when he gave us Jesus, but he didn’t stop there. He continues to pour out gifts in abundance.

At times in life it can be difficult to recognize God’s good gifts. Sometimes this is due to an external factor, such as the death of a loved one. Sometimes it’s because of an internal factor, such as dissatisfaction with our standard of living. We can’t see the good right in front of us because our sights are set on something else.

The next time your heart struggles to recognize God’s gifts in your life, take a moment to consider three areas of God’s generosity: relational, physical, and spiritual.

Relational Generosity

God created us to live in relationship with other people. God brings people into our lives to help us, shape us, comfort us, and challenge us. They are friends, coworkers, family members, and church members. Some of us will have a lot of relationships, which extroverts love. Others will have only a few, close people in their lives, which is an introvert’s dream. But whether few or many, every relationship is a good gift from God.

Physical Generosity

A roof over our heads. Food on the table. Clothes on our backs. A car to drive.

We take for granted most of the physical gifts God has given us. Every day we are surrounded by blessings from God, blessings that many people around the world would love to have. Yet we consider them mundane, even take them for granted. We go through the day with all these benefits while rarely pausing to thank God for these good gifts.

Spiritual Generosity

While God’s relational and physical generosity toward us is significant, the greatest gift he’s given us is Jesus. There was no one less deserving of death than Jesus, and no one more deserving than you and me. Christ’s sacrifice brought us from life to death. His sacrifice provides us with real hope. His sacrifice changes everything about our present and future lives.

What can happen when we really grasp God’s generosity? Consider the example of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. Zacchaeus was a well-known and widely despised tax collector in the city of Jericho. Before he met Jesus, his heart was consumed with a deep desire to accumulate wealth.

Did he long for financial security? Did greater wealth make him feel more successful? We don’t know. But we do know he was willing to sacrifice everything, including his reputation and relationships, to acquire wealth.

Suddenly, everything changed. Zacchaeus came to see his finances in a much different light. The money in his bank account represented not only regretful, sinful choices but also an opportunity to bless others in unexpected ways.

Why the dramatic shift? What happened to his heart? It’s simple; he met Jesus. Jesus offered to enter Zacchaeus’s house and break bread with him. Jesus offered a relationship to Zacchaeus.

And Zacchaeus accepted.

Suddenly, Zacchaeus saw the world with new eyes. He saw that God had placed people around him, not for him to plunder but to provide for. Zacchaeus met Jesus, and it changed everything.

Zacchaeus recognized the gift he had been given, and his response was to give generously in return. I hope this is true for you as well.

When we truly realize the gift we have been given, our eyes should be opened to a whole new reality. Our hearts should beat with renewed vigor.

Like Zacchaeus, we were once bound by our sinful desires to chase the things of this world. It was a never satisfying, fruitless existence.

But then we met Jesus. That relationship rearranges everything in our hearts and provides a fulfilling purpose for our lives.

Do you see with the eyes of Zacchaeus? Do you see with the eyes of someone who has been given the greatest possible gift?

Are you grateful? If you are grateful, generosity will be the natural outcome. Let the overflow of God’s generosity toward you spill out as generosity toward others.

Adapted from Money in the Light of Eternity: What the Bible Says about Your Financial Purpose by Art Rainer. Copyright © 2023. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.