Gratitude is what we experience when we perceive that what we have received is an undeserved gift of God’s grace. It is a fruit of humility; it’s inherently unselfish. We don’t feel true gratitude toward ourselves, but only towards someone else who treats us better than we deserve.
Do you know what’s stronger than lust? Thankfulness.
Let me illustrate before I explain. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, why didn’t he succumb to her advances? He explains,
“Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:8–9)
Joseph received Potiphar’s remarkable favor on him as a gift from God. Gratitude was occupying so much space in Joseph’s heart that there was not enough room for the ingratitude of sexually sinning with Potiphar’s wife.
Too Full to Indulge
Now look at your own experience. You have not indulged in lust when your heart has felt full of thankfulness to God. Why? Because lust is a form of coveting: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Exodus 20:17). And coveting, in all its forms, is a fruit of ingratitude. It’s a desire for something you want but don’t have, or can’t have; it’s a desire for something God has not provided for you or forbidden to you (James 4:2).
So lust, being a form of ingratitude, is incompatible with gratitude — they cannot cohabit the same space at the same time. It’s one or the other. And thankfulness is the stronger power. Lust might feel powerful, and thankfulness might feel meek. But when thankfulness is truly present, lust is no match for it.
Thanksgiving is not merely a “nice” Christian character trait. It is a sin-conquering force.