Summary: Thankfulness is a critical tool in the believers toolbox, one highly valued by God Himself. It should become an addiction.
The Priority of Thankfulness
1. The idea of being Thankful is often left open-ended in our day. TO GOD.
2. Harriet was an atheist. One morning she & a Christian lady-friend stepped out into the glories of a beautiful fall morning. As Harriet saw the brilliant sun peaking through the haze, & the frost on the meadow, & the brightly colored leaves making their way lazily to the ground, she was filled with the beauty & said, "I am so thankful. I’m just so grateful for it all." And her believing friend asked, "Grateful to whom, my dear?" [Thomas Bowen, Sermon Central]
3. The Pilgrims did us a great favor by initiating the holiday we now call Thanksgiving. It is perhaps the most uncorrupted Christian holiday around.
4. Unfortunately, many Americans only express their thanks to God once a year. That’s better than nothing, I suppose. But for us, being thankful should almost be as natural as breathing and as common as scratching an itch.
Main Idea: Thankfulness is a critical tool in the believers toolbox, one highly valued by God Himself. It should become an addiction.
I. Why Keeps Us From Being As Thankful as We SHOULD Be?
A. ENVY or bitterness (Genesis 16, Hagar and Sarah)
B. COVETOUSNESS (Achan, Gehazi, Ahab)
C. ARROGANCE (Luke 18:1, the Pharisee vs. the tax collector)
“Relative deprivation is the experience of being deprived of something to which one believes to be entitled. It refers to the discontent people feel when they compare their positions to others and realize that they have less of what they believe themselves to be entitled than those around them.” [www.boundless.com]
We don’t appreciate air, water, clothing, shelter — because most people have them.
This is why people in poorer countries are generally happier than most Americans.
During the Depression, people were content with little because their neighbors had little. When the opposite is true, it can create of spirit of demandingness.
We feel entitled. Entitlement is a specialized form of arrogance. Many have a purely negative attitude toward God — they don’t appreciate Him for the many blessings He bestows, but they are embittered against Him because some others appear to have more blessings. Someone has said,
“Entitlement means simply that you never have to say thank you or excuse me.”
We could understand if people who suffer very, very much felt this way — but they often have a better attitude toward God than the typical person.
D. LOSS AVOIDANCE/FOCUS ON LOSS (2nd Temple, Ezra 3:12)
1. This is a trap to watch out for; easy to fall into.
2. In economics and decision theory, loss aversion refers to people's tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains: it's better to not lose $5 than to find $5. Some studies have suggested that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains.
3. People will stay at the theater and watch a movie they don’t like; paid $.
4. Because of this, we tend to be at least twice as negative about loss as we are positive about gain. The children of Israel grieved over missing leeks and onions more than they anticipated milk and honey. They were ungrateful.
5. This also has great bearing on how we age. Some old people act ridiculously.
E. WRONG priorities (Matthew 6:24)
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
F. Spiritual Darkness/MALAISE (Romans 1:21, I Tim. 4:3-5)
Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Thankfulness is a critical tool in the believers toolbox, one highly valued by God Himself. It should become an addiction.
II. Becoming INTENTIONALLY Thankful
We who have been redeemed and are seeking to surrender our lives to God can be grateful to Him in ways that the ego-centric cannot.
A. Organized CORPORATE thanksgiving (Nehemiah 12:31a)
“Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks.”
Giving thanks to God is more than an obligation, but it is that.
B. Gratitude for being DELIVERED (Jonah 2:5-7, 9)
Take the case of Jonah.
“The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains…yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.
“When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple…But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you;