Is ingratitude a big deal? Why is gratitude important? To some degree we know that we are supposed to be grateful but we tend to only think about it around Thanksgiving and it isn’t something that we are overly concerned about. But consider the following passage.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.
That is a pretty intense list. We read that list and think, “Yea, we should avoid people like that. Demeaning. Lovers of self. Traitors. Without self-control. Brutal.” But notice one of the items right smack in the middle of this list: ungrateful. Ingratitude doesn’t seem like it should be on this list of horrible sins, but there it is.
The Danger Of Ingratitude
Ingratitude is a refusal to surrender too and be happy with the life that God has chosen for us. It’s is not valuing the blessings that God has given us and reveals misplaced priorities. When we are not grateful for what God has given us we very quickly begin thinking we are owed more. As humans, we pride ourselves on our self-sufficiency. We pride ourselves on what we can accomplish. We pride ourselves in our glory. And when we have this over-inflated view of ourselves we begin to think that we are the source of all that’s good in our lives and we forget that it’s God blessing us beyond what we deserve.
Ingratitude causes us to become demanding because we think we deserve better. We deserve more. We are not grateful for what we have, we want more. It can also cause us to play the victim. It’s easy to look at our circumstances and think “I don’t deserve this!” when our hearts are not overwhelmed with gratitude for the spiritual blessings God has lavished upon us.
Ingratitude is dangerous because it stems from a prideful heart that has forgotten, or worse is deliberately ignoring, all the undeserved blessings that God has given us. Ingratitude is spiritual dullness, perhaps even spiritual blindness.
The Safety Of Gratitude
Gratitude on the other hand is happy no matter the circumstances because it recognizes all the undeserved blessings of God. Making the decision to be grateful is how you lead your heart into dependence on God because it looks for and recognizes blessings come from him. Gratitude looks for the ways God is working because it wants to show thanks. Ultimately gratitude is worship.
Gratitude is not just us dutifully saying a quick “thank-you prayer” before you eat each meal. It’s not simply a command (although it it!) from God that we need to make sure we check off the list. It’s a life-giving spiritual prescription for our spiritual health. It increases our happiness in God. It draws our attention away from things that drain us of our hope and it fixes our gaze onto what fuels our hope, courage, and love.
Gratitude is one of the things that helps keep us in the faith.
Colossians 2:4-7 I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with arguments that sound reasonable. For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.
So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.
We won’t be deceived by false teaching when our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for Christ has done for us. Gratitude enables us to fight sin. You won’t look for satisfaction in lesser things when you heart is satisfied and grateful for what Christ has given you.
Gratitude Is The Key
Why is some version of “give thanks” repeated so often throughout Scripture? Because gratitude is the key that unlocks the door to the joy of the Lord. And it’s the joy of the Lord that is our strength. When a person is happy in Christ it’s amazing how many other things fall into place in our Christian life.
So how do we fight to be grateful? How do we battle ingratitude? We will begin to tackle that in part 2.