The United States of America is the most blessed of all nations on the earth. One would think that these would be the most thankful of all people. But that is not the case for most Americans. They seem to always be wanting more and more things. And yet in all these blessings, rare is the voice of thankfulness. If in the most blessed society on the earth the expression of thankfulness is relatively rare, then where does real thankfulness come from?
Recipient of thanks
For there to be thankfulness, there must be a recipient of the thanks. In other words, there must be someone who does some good thing for which someone else gives them thanks. You may help someone on the roadside by changing a flat tire. For that they give you thanks. You have helped them when they were helpless and for that they are thankful to you.
Giver of thanks
Just as there must be a recipient for there to be thankfulness, so there must be a giver for there to be thankfulness. In the example above, the person whose flat tire was changed was the giver of thankfulness. Quite often thankfulness is a greater currency than any amount of money could convey.
Why are we not more thankful
When I was growing up it was customary in our part of the country to always give thanks before eating a meal. My parents had each grown up in households where there were times that the food for a meal was not so plentiful as we experience these days. There were never any leftovers and quite often there was not as much as one would have liked to have eaten. Needless to say, there was not an overweight problem in their family.
So, when they gathered around a table that had enough food for all they were truly thankful and acknowledged the source of that blessing. An understanding of where thankfulness comes from is usually grounded in the reality of at some point not having that for which they are thankful.
In the society we live in we have come to expect many things that our parents and grandparents did not take for granted. Today we have politicians and leaders telling us that we deserve free education, free food stamps, free childcare, free medical care, free housing and almost free everything. This has produced an attitude of what is called “entitlement”. That is the attitude that says that I deserve it so I am entitled to have it. If we don’t get it we get angry and become violent. This attitude is the antithesis of thankfulness.
This type of attitude is promoted by a spirit which does not want you or anyone to ever receive the good things that would bring about thankfulness.
Where did ingratitude begin?
You may wonder where this attitude of ingratitude began. There are some who would say that it just evolved. But only irresponsible people would suggest such a thing. Those people are the ungrateful and unthankful, even though they have great reason to be grateful and thankful. The beginning of ingratitude came soon after The Beginning. You see, the Bible gives us the true beginning of creation.
It was in the Garden of Eden that the devil tempted Adam and Eve by telling them the lie that their Creator did not want the best for them. After all, He would not allow them to eat of one of the trees found in that beautiful garden. Rather than being thankful for all the numerous trees that they could eat the fruit of, they expressed ingratitude for the one which they could not partake of. They decided that they deserved to eat of that forbidden fruit. The rest is history. And all their descendants have suffered for their unthankfulness.
What do we deserve?
Maybe it would help us to be thankful if we knew what we really deserved. Politicians tell us we deserve this and that and every other thing and never mention anything about working for these things. Because we have been told that we deserve these things we see no need to work toward them or be thankful for them. After all, we deserve it! If you believe that, then you believe a lie. Politicians are masters at lying.
The truth is, according to the Bible, we do not deserve anything good. Because our ancestor, Adam, rebelled against his Creator, we have inherited an attitude of unthankfulness and rebellion. We have rebelled against a Creator that only creates “good” things and only does “good” things. So, if you rebel against the source of everything good, then you should not be surprised when bad things come your way. After all, that is exactly what you deserve. That is exactly what we all deserve.
But if you have never been told that great truth then you will believe the lies that the politicians will tell you and you will never be thankful even when your Creator, through His great mercy, still showers blessings on you which are totally undeserved and unmerited.
Where does thankfulness come from?
Thankfulness can only come from a new creation. The scripture says that, “If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation.” The old person thinks like Adam did. He thinks that he deserves good things and can work hard and get them. He can “pull himself up by his own bootstraps”. So he thinks he deserves any good that comes his way. So, there is not attitude of thankfulness in him.
But, for the person who has “come to the end of his rope”, and all hope seems lost, there comes the Spirit which says “I love you and I have paid the price for your deliverance from this hopelessness.” This is found in the scriptures in Romans. “But God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” What we deserved as sinners, Jesus took on Himself. Because He paid the price we can now receive the “good” things that only the Creator, Himself, can produce. The passage in Romans is preceded by this phrase: “When we were without hope..” There was nothing we could do on our part that could have put us right with our Creator so that we could receive all the good He has. We deserved nothing good and everything bad. We rightly deserved hell. But the Creator loved us and sent His Son to pay the price for our rebellion.
Now, you do not have to receive this “Good News”, and you can continue in the lie of thinking that you deserve good things when you deserve much more bad than you have ever experienced. It is the goodness and mercy of the Creator that delays your final judgment in hopes that you will receive His gift of grace that will make you a new creation in Christ Jesus.
When you experience that “new birth” and become a “new creation in Christ Jesus”, then you will have a spirit of thankfulness that will never end. You will always be expressing thanks to your Creator for every blessing that is showered upon you. Thankfulness will become a lifestyle. It will not be something you will have to work at. It will be the normal outflow of the life that is within you which is brought about by the Holy Spirit Who inhabits your whole being.
You will be constantly thankful because you are getting not what you deserve but what God delights to give you because you are His child.
God bless you!