And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The apostle Paul tells us that a lack of gratitude can and will lead to a host of other human evils (Romans 1:21-32). Whereas recognizing God’s blessings, and a habit of thanking God every day for what he’s already done, is a way of beating back the rise of covetousness, envy, and resentment.
Every one of us could become ungrateful and envious for the simple reason that someone else has something we want. Whatever good thing we may have at the moment, there’s going to be someone near us who has far more, or far better, than we. It’s not hard to see how this works out in real life.
Believers have more reasons to become the most grateful people because we’ve received more and greater things than everyone else. No, we may not have more material goods than our neighbors, but we’ve received gifts that far outweigh anything else the world has to offer. So if we don’t feel and express gratitude, and a general spirit of thanksgiving, then how do our lives honor God and point non-believers to him?
Think about it. What do we have that most do not? Let us list them:
-God has lavished upon us, free of charge, forgiveness for every sinful and evil thing we’ve ever done.
-We know why we exist, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.
-We know that we are loved with infinite love, we have a close companion who will never leave us, One who has the ability to change or rearrange anything and everything in our favor.
-We’re guaranteed an eternal destiny that puts us in line to inherit everything that Jesus Christ has.
If we can’t get excited or grateful for all of that, then adding any of the world’s trinkets and toys to our lives won’t make the slightest difference.
Ingratitude is one area of life that spills over into other areas. It’s like a deadly cancer, growing ever worse as it kills everything it touches. The apostle Paul saying failing to be thankful is a grievous sin, and is something certain to spoil life. Let’s say you give someone a precious Christmas present, and they turn up their nose and toss it aside, what is your response? It’s the same with God. He doesn’t like it either. Just reread the account of the Hebrews in the desert after being delivered from Egyptian bondage. Why did it take so many years wandering around in the dust and hot sand before a remnant made it to the Promised Land? The answer: Their stubborn ingratitude and disobedience.
It isn’t even a remote possibility to become happy, joyful, or contented without a strong sense of thankfulness towards God. There’s a seesaw relationship between resentment and gratitude: When one is up, the other is down. When we forget what we’ve been given, and begin to concentrate on what we don’t have, resentment inevitably rises. But the opposite is also true when we allow gratitude to flourish, to express thanks every day deliberately, envy and petulance fade away. And I mean here negative emotions not only towards others, but also toward God himself.
Christians are often the first ones in the God-complaint line. He takes the heat for whatever is wrong in the world. We accuse him and blame him when we start to imagine he’s like us—sinful, unreliable, cruel, indifferent, vindictive, and so forth. This is a sure pathway to loss of love and faith. It’s only coming to a full understanding of who God is, and what he’s like, and becoming dazzled by his true character, that dissolves our sinful and malignant attitude toward him.
God is never unjust, unloving, or guilty of abuse. He has proved himself to his people over and over again. Let us celebrate this good news in our lives and thank God for his loving mercies.
John I. Snyder is an international pastor (currently serving at Starnberg Fellowship, Starnberg, Germany), conference speaker, and author of the book Resenting God: Escape the Downward Spiral of Blame (ranked #1 on Christian Ethics in Theology on Amazon) from Abingdon Press. His highly acclaimed prayer guide Your 100 Day Prayer: The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on God (ranked #1 on Meditations on Amazon books, #1 on Prayer on Amazon Kindle, #9 on Christian living on Amazon) from Thomas Nelson Publishers has transformed the lives of readers all over the world, taking them on a 100-day journey in prayer over a specific issue or circumstance in their lives. John received his Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and he received his Doctor of Theology degree magna cum laude in New Testament Studies from the University of Basel, Switzerland. John has been featured on Focus on the Family, Moody Radio, Fox News, Faith Radio Network, Cru, American Family Radio Network, In the Market with Janet Parshall, The Bottom Line with Roger Marsh, Miracle Channel, Bill Martinez Live, and many more.