Summary: This simple sermon is a great visual expression of Thanksgiving that listeners of all ages can immediately relate to and will remember long after the sermon is finished.
“As you go through life, make this your goal...look at the donut and not the hole.” Donuts are great! Wouldn’t it be sad if you focused your attention on the hole in the middle. Wouldn’t you miss out? Wouldn’t it be just a wee bit silly to complain about the hole? What a sad mistake it would be to focus your attention on what you don’t have instead of the incredibly sweet awesomeness you do have! Sadly...some people go through life or seasons of life focused on what’s missing instead of the good things they do have.
Truth is...deep down...you’re either a grumbler or you’re grateful.
Grumbling / whining / complaining / a lack of gratitude...isn’t anything new. Even though at times it seems that the whine has become our national anthem...It’s not uniquely American . It’s not an age thing. People have always grumbled and complained. Adam and Even...had the entire garden except for one tree...they listened to a lie and all they could see was what they didn’t have. That’s the way the devil works. One of his main goals is to get me to take my eyes off of Jesus...all God has done...His blessings...and to put my eyes...cause me to focus on myself...the circumstances...the things I don’t have.
And what about the Israelites? After all God had done & promised. They grumbled because they didn’t have enough water. They grumbled because they didn’t like the food. They didn’t like where God had them living. They grumbled because they thought Moses was a lame leader. They grumbled because they missed Egypt. They grumbled because it was taking to long to experience what God had promised. They grumbled because they thought God had let them down...all the while...He was the one protecting and sustaining them.
Remember the parable Jesus told about the workers in the vineyard? (Matthew 20) Their outlook is bleak until the landowner comes along. It’s not as though they have jobs already and the land owner lures them away with the promise of a bigger paycheck. They’ve got nothing to begin with. No job. No money. No hope. Anything that happens to them...anything the landowner does is a blessing to them. Some are hired early in the day...other’s later...and still others with only an hour left on the shift. Remember...the landowner is generous to everyone who worked. And because the landowner was generous...the workers that started early grumbled and complained, “You made them equal to us.” Life wasn’t fair...their hearts envied...“They thought they deserved more” (v.10) and they grumbled. Ultimately...their beef was with the landowner...the man who had hired them in the first place. The man without whom they would have no job at all. They grumbled...whined...and complained. They couldn’t see the blessing in their life because they were so focused on what they didn’t have...or get. Focused on self.
Just like it’s easy to spot someone who has an attitude of gratitude...grumblers are even easier to spot. (1) A grumbler is never satisfied with what they already have. If it’s money...it’s never enough. If it’s their home...someone else has a nicer one...or a bigger one. They’ve got their PHD in criticism and a Masters in nitpicking. Never satisfied...never grateful...never content...blind to the blessings they already have. (2) A grumbler always has an excuse. Their background. The government. Somebody did this or that. Somebody didn’t do this or that. Excuses, excuses, excuses. (3) A grumbler thinks life is rigged against them. Deep down...they believe the cards aren’t stacked in their favor. No matter how hard they try...they believe their doomed to fail. If you show them a glass of water and ask, “Is it half full or half empty?”...they’ll say, “I don’t know...but I bet the water is polluted.” A grumbler...misses the donut because they’re focused on the hole.
The story is told of two friends who ran into each other at Walmart one afternoon. One of them looked miserable...almost on the verge of breaking down and crying. His friend asked, “What in the world has happened?” The sad friend said, “Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me forty-thousand dollars.” “That’s a lot of money.” “Yeah, but two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died and left me eighty-five-thousand free and clear.” “Then what’s wrong? Sounds to me like you’ve been blessed...” “You don’t understand!,” the sad friend interrupted. “Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million from her.” Now the friend asking all the questions was really confused. “For crying out loud...how come you’re so miserable?” To which the gloomy friend replied, “This week...nothing!”
That’s the trouble with being blessed on a regular blessing or living in a perpetual state of blessing. We come to expect it. As American’s we’ve been blessed so much for so long that as a society...we’ve developed a bit of an “entitlement mindset.” If we aren’t careful...if we don’t purposely endeavor to express thanks...we can easily become complacent, taking our blessings for granted, we can easily stop depending on God, and even begin to grumble even though we’re blessed. That’s what God warned the Israelites about. The 100th Psalm was written for the people of Israel. God said to them in Deuteronomy 8:12-14, “Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, (make sure that when you) build pleasant houses and settle in, (make sure that when you) see your herds and flocks flourish and more an more money come in, (make sure that when you) watch your standard of living going up and up...make sure that you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God.” And that’s exactly what happened...and happens still today.