To say that I was not always grateful for my parents’ love and sacrifices while growing up is sadly accurate. I am not proud of this fact, but it is the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my dad and mom, but there were moments when I did not appreciate all they did for me. Thankfully, I lived long enough to better understand their sacrifices.
There is someone who loves me more than my parents and who has made greater sacrifices for me than they ever could. (1 John 3:1-3) In fact, He has done more for all of us than anyone could possibly do, and yet we are not always grateful. (Matt. 7:11) I am referring to God, our Creator and Savior. The sad reality is, many overlook His goodness and are not thankful for His blessings.
Why would anyone be ungrateful to the ones who do the most for them, especially to God? I believe the answer may involve several reasons. First, the problem was not that I questioned my parent’s love and sacrifice, but rather my understanding of it. Children cannot fully know or realize all their parents do for them. All the sleepless nights they spend nursing their sick children or the financial sacrifices they make to give their kids a better life. How can a child grasp their parents’ grief and worry over their behavior or choices? My dad and mom use to say, “You will understand when you have children” and they were right.
God has done so much for me, and while I know this, there is much about His love that is beyond my insight. (Rom. 11:33-36) Yes He is the Creator and He made us free moral beings. God told us how to live and then sent His Son to die for our sins. We can know Him and His Will from Divine revelation. And so He loved and sacrificed for lesser beings, and this is not something we can do. Perhaps some do not fully appreciate God because they are not in His shoes.
I am not suggesting we must walk in another’s shoes before we can be thankful for their love and sacrifice. Surely my dad and mom did more than enough to always deserve my respect. So how much more gratitude is God worthy of since He has done more for me than my parents ever could. (Psalms 145)
Looking back on my childhood, I realize my ingratitude was often a problem when my parents made rules. Maybe I was upset when they made me do something or when they kept me from doing what I wanted. The problem was not them, it was me. I did not trust them or their love for me. Instead, I acted selfishly and defiant of the ones who did the most for me. Did they have hidden motives, were they mean just to be mean, or controlling just to be controlling? No! They had my best interest in heart and knew better than I did what was right.
I believe many are ungrateful to God for the same reason; they do not like His rules. To get around Bible teaching they just change its message and meaning, or try to just explain it way. (Matt. 15:3-9) He did not mean to say we should dress modestly or that marriage is between a man and woman. The Bible does not state baptism saves us. What we fail to realize, when we protest against God’s rules, is that His Will is best for us. (James 1:22-25)
Sadly, we do what Naaman did when we complain about or reject God’s offer to bless. (2 King 5:1-15) He had leprosy, a medically incurable disease, and so he went to a prophet of God for help. Elisha told him to go and wash seven times in the Jordan River to cure his leprosy. Naaman did not like the prophet’s message, and so at first refused to go and thus his disease continued. He was unthankful because he did not like the rules. Only later, after his servant convinced him to obey God’s directions, was he healed. So it is with us, God will not heal us spiritually until we obey Him. (Heb. 5:9)
Most of the time, I was happy and content as a child of my parents. They cared for and loved me always, and comparing my life with some of my peers I knew how blessed I was. However, there were moments when I envied my friends, when I wished my family was more like theirs. They had freedoms I did not, and could go and do what they wanted. During these moments I was not always as grateful as I should have been.
No family is better than God’s family and no children more blessed than God’s children. Unfortunately, many do not see it this way. Instead, they want His family to become more secular and social or they see it as divided into thousands of religious sects. Those who feel this way are not grateful for the one family God created. (Eph. 3:14-21)
Just as troubling, some Christians are unhappy in their family. They want to be more like the world and other religions. As a result, some do not want to hear lessons about morality, doctrine, or authority. They want preaching watered down so no one feels uncomfortable about sin. Look, the Father of our family sets the rules and He will not change who He is or who we are. Be grateful sons of God. (Rom. 8:13-19)