It’s Thanksgiving season, when we spend time expressing our gratitude to God and each other. I fear, though, that our thanksgiving is too often limited to the holiday we will celebrate next week. We’re like the nine healed lepers who failed to return to Jesus with praise and thanksgiving (Luke 17:11-19). What, then, does the sin of ingratitude reveal about us?
- We often focus more on what we don’t have than on what God has already given us. That’s what Adam and Eve did in the Garden: they turned their attention away from all God’s blessings to the one tree He told them they could not have. Ingratitude misses today’s gifts by focusing on what we think God should have provided us yesterday.
- We’re susceptible to idolatry. When we aren’t grateful, we’re in essence saying, “I deserve everything I have.” We make ourselves our own god when ingratitude marks our lives; we idolize both ourselves and our stuff.
- We’re often egotistical. The most grateful people I know recognize they have much they don’t deserve. Unlike others, they understand that God has been gracious to them—and they remain humbly amazed by that grace rather than arrogantly focused on self.
- We don’t fully understand joy. Few times are as joy-filled as when we recognize that God has provided for us. All we can do is kneel in amazement as we again find God all-sufficient and all-providing. For ungrateful people, though, “joy” in stuff is fleeting and fake.
- We are sinful people who don’t always follow the Word. That Word is clear about thanksgiving: in all circumstances, in the good and bad, in confusion and in peace, in prosperity and in need . . . we are to be thankful to the God who rules over all (1 Thess 5:18). Anything less (that is, ingratitude) is evidence of our sinfulness.
- We may be allowing ongoing sin in our lives. We don’t usually spend much time in thanksgiving when our hearts are tuned to other things that produce temporary pleasure—especially when our sin is in secret. Unrepentant hiddenness doesn’t produce gratitude.
- We miss out on real worship at times. Just read the psalms, and see how many times the psalmist echoed with hymns of gratitude! Many of us, however—beginning with me—will sing songs of thanksgiving for this season without really having a heart of thanksgiving. That’s not genuine worship.
How about you? What does your level of genuine gratitude say about you? What change will you make?