Summary: This was delivered as a Thanksgiving Eve message. The congregation is challenged to recognize discontent, that it is a sin, and contrary to the thanksgiving that is due the Lord.
This evening, we have gathered together to give thanks to God. Tomorrow we will share Thanksgiving Day with loved ones. This should be a truly glorious and happy time of the year for us. But, sadly, there will be some who rather than giving thanks will be nursing grudges and complaints against family, the world around us, and ultimately against God. I hope that none of you have fallen into a life style of ingratitude, but I’m afraid many have. And that is why I am speaking on the topic of ingratitude on this the eve of the very day in which we as a nation have been called to give thanks to God.
In years past when my wife’s mom and dad were still alive, we frequently made the holiday trip to their home in Mobridge, South Dakota. If the weather was good, we might take Highway 20 across the prairie. Somewhere along that road, I don’t remember exactly where, there was a welcome sign to a small town. The sign read, “Welcome to our town, the home of 300 friendly people and a few sore-heads.” I know that this was intended to be a joke. But in truth, all too often people slip into belly-aching in one form or another. We ourselves might choose to be sore-heads, complainers, grumblers, gripers, murmurers and whiners. And this is unfortunate because belly-aching is a sin against God.
What shall it be for us this year, thanksgiving or ingratitude? Regardless of the word we use to describe it, belly-aching or complaining or ingratitude, always has the same symptoms. The dictionary defines it as “an expression of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or discontent.”
A certain man, well-known for his constant complaining, inherited a large sum of money. When he got it, he complained about how it was not as much as he thought it should be. He bought a farm and asked his wife what she thought he should name it. She quickly responded, "Why don’t you call it ‘Belly Acres’?"
Now…what follows probably won’t apply to most of you this evening. I’m sure that none of you are chronic complainers, but maybe, just maybe, from time to time you may slip, oh, maybe just a little bit, into the sin of ingratitude. If so, please listen carefully. You really need to hear this.
Ingratitude is a sin! And it is a serious sin and affront to God. And yet people who would never steal or kill or commit adultery will complain, not realizing that ingratitude is an equally offensive sin. People gripe about everything. Sometimes it almost seems as if some people are NOT happy unless they have something to complain about. Couples get together for an evening of fellowship and, the first thing you know, someone is complaining about someone or something. Employees complain about the company for which they work. Employers complain about their employees. Students complain about teachers and workloads.
Sometimes even church pastors complain, —but I won’t tell you about what. Complaining seems to be so common these days that someone tuning in from outer space might assume that belly-aching is our national past time. And why not? There’s so much to complain about: teachers, traffic, kids, taxes, politicians, constant home and auto repairs, poor health, aches and pains, and troubles of all kinds!
Pre-schoolers complain: "I don’t want to take a nap." Children complain: "My teacher gives me too much homework." Teenagers complain: "You never let me do anything." Moms complain, "How many times do I have to tell you to make your bed?” Dads complain: "I work hard all week and then when I come home you get on my case about fixing this and fixing that." Complaining is one of the most prevalent sins, even among Christians who would never think of committing other sins are guilty of the sin of ingratitude.
Somebody has said that God rested on the seventh day, but on the 8th day He had to start answering complaints.
Take the example of a recent complaint at a hardware store. One day a chronic complainer walked into a hardware store and asked for a chain saw advertised to cut 6 trees in an hour. He came back the next day fussing, grumbling, complaining, and demanding a refund, “This chainsaw is defective”, he said. “It would only cut 1 tree and it took ALL DAY!” The salesman said, “Let me look at it,” and reached down and started the chainsaw. The man said, “What’s that noise?”
All joking aside, complaining is a serious symptom of ingratitude and ingratitude is a serious affront to God our Heavenly Father. In Numbers 11:1-2 we read, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in in the outskirts of the camp.” We would do well to ponder this sobering verse, lest we, like the people of Israel, forget all God’s goodness and mercy.