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We have just finished the Thanksgiving season this year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also history–for this year. Leftovers are almost gone, and perhaps so is our emphasis on thankfulness. I wonder how long the season really lasts. What is our “attitude of gratitude”?

Ingratitude is a bad thing. I remember a story told to me about myself when I was a young boy. I had opened a present from one of my friends. My mother prompted me to say thank you by saying “say thanks to Brian”. So that is what I did. I said “thanks to Brian”. Perhaps this childlike repetition was sincere, but it really doesn’t sound like it. As a result, “say thanks to Brian” is a family joke when we are prompting someone to be thankful.

We all have had the experience of doing something nice for someone, and then feeling that the gift or act of kindness was unacknowledged and unappreciated. It is a bad feeling. Shakespeare said it this way “Ingratitude! Thou marble-hearted fiend, more hideous when thou show’st thee in a child than the sea-monster.”

I wonder how Jesus felt after he healed the ten lepers. Luke 17 says

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

When miraculously healed of a disease that was debilitating and caused you to be a social outcast, only 1 of 10 were thankful. While it is unclear how many of each nationality were involved, it can easily be assumed that many who were healed (but not thankful) were Jewish. Jesus comments that it was the foreigner, the one who who hated by most Jews, who came back to shout His praise and thank Him. May we be part of the thankful ten percent who praise God with loud voices!

8 comments to Ingratitude

  • Jules Schieferstein

    Thanks for this post Dr. O, it was pretty convicting. Too often, even in this time of Thanksgiving, I can get wrapped up too much in being ungrateful about circumstances instead of thanking God for all of the blessings He has given me. Even this week, instead of being grateful for the break we all got, I just see myself anxiously awaiting the next one. This post helped me to put things in perspective, and encourages me to finish strong, grateful that I get to come to the school I do, and the rest that I got to receive over break.

  • Jared Dickerson

    This is a really good point that I believe people overlook far too often. We as humans are inherently selfish in nature – especially Americans. For the most part, people living in the United States have it made; we don’t have to worry about finding food and water to stay alive, we can practice religion freely, and many of us are able to receive higher education.
    We have become so accustomed to these things that we don’t stop to take the time to appreciate the many blessings we have. We lay aside one day in the year to express thankfulness when we should be living thankful lives all the time. And in many cases, Thanksgiving isn’t even a day to be thankful anymore, but rather a day to eat tons of food, watch football, and get ready to go shopping. I’ve always found it funny how the greediest day of the year – also known as Black Friday – directly follows the day where we are supposed to be thankful.
    We lose sight of thankfulness in the midst of our excessive greed. Jesus Christ came to this earth, humbling Himself to the lowest of lows, to die for our sin and give us everlasting life with Him in Heaven. If we know the Gospel, we have no reason to be greedy. We should live our lives every day in a way that demonstrates gratitude to the one who gave it to us.
    We have so much to be thankful for and one day is not nearly enough to express it.

  • Tyler Dellaperute

    Thanks Dr. O, this was a really good reminder for me. A lot of times the reason we don’t give thanks to God isn’t because we are ungrateful, but because we are so distracted and preoccupied with everything going on that we forget to stop and give thanks. The healed lepers were so overjoyed at the fact that they were healed that they neglected to give recognition to the one who healed them. This is a problem for me in several areas of my life, especially in ministry and academics. I’m a problem-solver, so I tend to get very focused on getting things accomplished. This results in me failing to express gratitude to God and recognize that he is the one who works through me and enables me to get things done.

    One verse that really speaks of the seriousness of neglecting to give thanks is Romans 1:21. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul describes the downward spiral into sin that ultimately leads to a “debased mind” and all kinds of evil. According to Paul, the first step in this direction is failing to give thanks! “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.”

    Let’s always remember to honor God and give him thanks for his good and perfect gifts, no matter how busy or preoccupied we might be.

  • Brittney Mitchell

    Whenever I read this passage in Luke I jokingly think of clinical trials. It’s a kind of sobering joke but here it goes,

    “Biblical research shows that in miraculous healing from Jesus only 1 of 10 participants thanked him.”

    I find myself, as a college kid, forgetting the weight of what the Lord has done for me. I forget what the Lord has done for me in his salvation for me, but even more so i forget what he has done for me in the specifics of my life. Perhaps in the moment of the answered prayer I am aware and thankful but often it is quickly forgotten as I lose faith in the face of the next petition I bring before the Lord. Would it be fair to say that exercising thankfulness also strengthens our faith?

  • Melissa Martin

    I think at the foundation of an ungrateful heart is a forgetfulness about what has been done for you. If we don’t remember that God Himself came to be with us and sacrificed His own flesh and blood to keep us from having to do the same, we will not be grateful for that. The first step in being grateful is merely preaching the gospel to yourself, since that is something that will always be pertinent to our lives. Second, ungratefulness happens because of an inward focus. This semester has been tough for me at points. With so much going on, my free time is often lonely because I haven’t had a chance to build a “friend group” per se. In these moments, I am often ungrateful for the friends that I do have because I am so focused on myself and what I am feeling in that moment. When we focus on the Lord and what He has put around us (upward and outward focus), we will become more satisfied in Him and thankfulness can truly fill our hearts.

  • Macy McClain

    I believe it’s in 1 Thessalonians, but it talks about how we should give thanks to God in all circumstances. That is something I struggle with personally. I also always get wrapped in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, Thanksgiving, food and family. This is a good post for me. Melissa hit the nail on the head when she said we should always go back to the gospel. That is the ultimate sacrifice for us. The cross should leave us in awe and a heart full of gratitude and thankfulness to Jesus for his redemptive work. Have a merry Christmas, Dr. O!!

  • Charles M DeBrosse

    In Western American culture it is in our DNA as a society to focus on the things we don’t have while neglecting the abundance of things we do have. This tends to be true in regards to material things as well as emotional and spiritual things. We may desire a new instrument that we see on display in a store completely forgetting the perfectly good keyboard or guitar we’ve already been blessed with that dozens others would be thrilled to own. We may congratulate a friend on celebrating an anniversary with their significant other while also hiding the sting of jealousy that we don’t have that special someone yet. All the while forgetting about the numerous other loving and supportive relationships we’ve been blessed with. Many times comparison is the death of gratitude and the ultimate instigator of naval-gazing. Gratitude is birthed and cultivated by a consistent reminder of what we are recipients of as believers in Christ. The passage that comes to my mind is Ephesians 1:3-14. Paul lays out the blessings with which God has poured out upon those who are in Christ. Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, predestined in love before the foundations of the world, redemption, forgiveness, adoption, all promised to those who are in Christ. If we never experience another good thing in our lives on this earth we still have cause for exuberant, never-ending gratitude based solely on the beautiful promises found in Scripture.

  • Zachary Chin

    Well said. I feel that the issue of ingratitude is especially present during the Christmas season. While most Christians view Christmas for what it really is (the celebration of Jesus’ birth), many view it just as a time to give gifts; or evern worse, a time to receiving gifts. For many years of my childhood, I viewed Christmas as a time of receiving gifts and not being grateful for the God’s ultimate gift: Jesus. I hope we as Christians make sure to keep in mind the true meaning of Christmas, be thankful for God’s gift, and spread that good news to others. Merry Christmas!