Most people are grateful when others do grand acts of kindness for them, and they usually have no trouble saying thank you for these deeds. For example, it is not hard to be thankful to the firefighter who goes into a burning building to save someone we love. Most of us find it easy to say thanks to a Good Samaritan who stops to give aid. In these moments, when another’s actions immediately help us with a clear and present problem or danger, we take notice. At least, this is how we should respond.
In one Bible example, Christ healed ten lepers after they begged, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus told the ten to “go and show yourselves to the priests”, and Luke records “as they went they were cleansed.” There was no cure for leprosy. Anyone infected had to separate themselves, even from friends and family. One would assume that all ten came back to the Lord to thank Him. Sadly, they all did not. If you know the story, you know only one came back, and nine were ungrateful. (Luke 17:12-19)
It is not just the great deeds of others we should value and for which we should be thankful. While these may stand out in our minds, the everyday goodness of people helps shape us more. The way our parents love and care for us, how they teach and protect us, goes a long way in helping to form who we will become. Neighbors, friends, and even complete strangers show us kindness and courtesy for which we ought to be thankful.
Why would anyone not show another common courtesy for good and kind deeds done to them? It makes no sense to be rude to someone who has been nice, but this is how many respond. They return evil and contempt for the goodness of others.
I think too many believe society owes them, and so they take for granted the goodwill of others. They feel no special reason to be thankful when others are nice to them. People may also be ungrateful because they focus on themselves, or when the blessing overwhelms them and they forget to say thank you.
Whatever the reason behind ingratitude, the attitude is never acceptable to God. In fact, it is mentioned among those feelings and actions that condemn us. In the book of Romans, Paul writes about some who did not honor God or give thanks to Him. In the context, he describes some sins of people who fall into this class. (Rom. 1:18-32) Paul says ingratitude will cause “times of difficulty” and that Christians should “avoid such people.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Regardless of our current circumstances, we have so much to be thankful for as Christians. Paul tells us, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18) Daily events should not diminish our gratitude for all that God has done for us. I know that bad things happen to Saints, but these do not remove God’s love and blessings. (Rom. 8:38-39)
We must not let the cares and concerns of this life weigh us down, make us anxious, or doubt God’s promises. When difficulty comes, pray to the Father with thanksgiving, knowing He will answer our prayers. (Phil. 4:6) And not only that, but with His answer He gives peace and protection for our hearts and minds. (Phil. 4:7)
Spiritual confidence is made possible because we are freed from sin and its devastating effects. There is no kindness greater than what God has done for us because we have no greater need. (Rom. 6:17-18) Sin separates us from God and His blessing (Isaiah 59:2) and ultimately causes us to lose our soul. (Rom. 6:23) However, God’s gift is “eternal life” in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We must build a grateful spirit in everything we say or do as Christians, and that means respecting the Lord’s authority. Reading from Paul’s Epistle, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17) People who add to or take away from the Lord’s message are not thankful for His love and sacrifice. (John 14:15) They are not grateful for what He did for us.
Finally, our gratitude is given because we have victory through God. In every spiritual battle there is a winner and a loser, and winning is infinitely better than losing. Christ has already won the war and everyone with Him will enjoy victory, however, we are still fighting our own personal battle. Recall what Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)