Summary: Each of us is given the opportunity to be grating or grateful, we get to choose which we will be.
After Michelle and I were married, in one of our early Christmas gift exchanges, she gave me a Franklin Organizer - a day-timer type calendar. At the time, I felt like the wife who was just given a treadmill or vacuum for Valentines Day. My face and demeanor gave me away and she could tell I wasn’t thrilled with the gift. Though it is funny now, It is a horrible memory of ingratitude. Can you remember such a moment? Perhaps it is a story of your children or of you as a child or teen.
Have you ever witnessed an act of ingratitude that was so wrong, it just bugged you? Someone given a gift and their attitude screamed like a spoiled brat? Kind of like Veruca Salt of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame.
Gratitude is the opposite of entitlement. Entitlement is the belief that you should be able to get whatever you want - that it is owed you. People who feel entitled, like Veruca, never have the opportunity to feel grateful. Gratitude is the right response when we are recipients of someone’s favor.
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s the story of a very poor boy from a very poor family finding one of 5 Golden Tickets. His family reacts VERY differently. Grandpa Joe, who has been bedridden for 20+ years yells "yippee" and gets up and does a dance.
Gratitude is a universal virtue and ingratitude a universal vice. It is also of spiritual significance. Speaking of gratitude as a universal virtue, Matt Harding created a video for the web called "The Gratitude Dance" (perhaps inspired by Charlie’s Grandpa) where he travels to different countries/cities around the world and does a little dance, just showing gratitude for being alive.
My prayer is that this message will have some practical application so join me in standing and let’s do the Gratitude Dance!
Even the secular world is inspired by gratitude. To date, over 33,000,000 people have watched the two video’s combined.
On the opposite side, think of the company that ingratitude keeps?
Romans 1:20-22 - "For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or EVEN give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools."
This was like a baby step. They wouldn’t worship Him as God or EVEN give Him thanks!
2 Tim. 3:1-5 - "You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!"
It is one of the first steps down the slippery slope of sin in Romans 1. It’s a sign of the last days in 2 Timothy, that people will be noticeably ungrateful.
Think about a time when you felt grateful. I’ll wait for a little bit. Think of a grateful moment. What other feelings do you associate with this state? If you are like others, you probably are thinking of words such as ’peaceful’, ’content’, ’warm’, ’giving’, ’friendly’, and ’joyful’. You’d be unlikely to say that gratitude makes you feel ’burdened’, ’stressed’ or ’resentful’.
Gratitude has always been a virtue that THE Church has talked about. Why? Because it is a virtue that THE Bible talks a lot about. Check out a sampling of the Scriptures:
I Chron. 16:34 - "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.."
Psalm 92:1-5 - "It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by the ten-stringed harp and the melody of the lyre. You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done. O LORD, what great works you do! And how deep are your thoughts."
Psalm 95:2 - "Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him."