Through a series of thoughts that culminated in a family home evening lesson last evening, I am brought to consider the two-sided key, or two-sided coin, of gratitude and humility. I say two-side because, on comparing the definitions, they are the same thing only in different contexts. Here’s how I’m defining the two terms:
Gratitude – to expressly acknowledge God’s blessing in our lives. (see Gratitude for the Goodness of God)
Humility – to recognize our dependence upon God and desiring to submit to His will. (from Guide to the Scriptures)
Now as I write this post, I find myself more in a state of sin than that of obedience, but recognizing such, and knowing that through further study and understanding of the doctrines of Christ, I can put myself into a place (through the grace of God or the enabling power of the Atonement of Christ) where I can then repent and improve, I’m anxiously longing to make connections, to overcome these vices and improve my position.
What does the Book of Mormon teach of gratitude and humility?
That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you. (Alma 34:38)
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 37:37)
See Topical Guide on Thankfulness
Paring gratitude with humility adds “depth” or dimension to the principle of gratitude. Take for example 2 Nephi 9:42:
And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.
Those that are puffed up because of their learning, wisdom, or riches — this sounds like a condition of ingratitude, but Jacob the prophet is using this to illustrate the need for humility. Here and elsewhere the phrase “depths of humility” is used. It suggests to me that there is a distance to be traveled between the lofty and vain aspirations of men and the lowly road of the humble. Is there not a distance to be traveled on the path to greater or more profound gratitude as well?
The scriptures say that we are to walk in thanksgiving daily, that definitely describes a journey more than a one-time occurrence.
And what of our attitude as we embark on the lowly road of humility? If there is a distance that must be traveled, how shall we travel it? By rejoicing gratefully every step of the way!
How can I be more grateful for Jesus Christ: His life, His Gospel, and His Atonement?
I have done a search this morning that has been on my mind: “Freely ye have received, freely give.” It is found in Matthew 10:8 and is instructions to his disciples. Another scripture came up in the search result in 1 Corinthians 2:12, and this is a key to having expanded gratitude:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (emphasis added)
The point here is that we need the Spirit of God to be with us to recognize the blessings that come from God. Especially as we take into account something as infinite and eternal as the Atonement of Christ, how can we even begin to appreciate or understand its significance for us without the Spirit of God to teach us? This is what Alma was getting at in Alma 34:38 already referenced above.