Fighting Ingratitude

Well, friends, I’m coming to you recording this the week of Thanksgiving. So it allows me the opportunity to say once again, happy Thanksgiving. First, thessalonians 518 says that our lives as believers are to be overflowing with gratitude. It says, Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. We took a look in my sermon on this past Sunday at that particular passage and what it exhorts us to do and what we took a look at and considered is that not giving thanks to God or not feeling grateful is not just a matter of bad manners.

It’s not a character flaw. It’s actually a sign or an indication that something’s wrong with our heart and actually with our relationship with God. It’s a sign that we may not even belong to God. Romans 118 through 21 helps highlight that for us. But by contrast, an indication that we do belong to God is a life full of gratitude and thanksgiving, and not just during the month of November, but all throughout life, in all circumstances.

As first thessalonians 518 tells us, the fruit of salvation is giving thanks hearts that are full of gratitude. Now, that’s not saying that an unbeliever can’t also experience gratitude when someone does something kind for them or gives them something. But that what that’s telling us, is that the life of a believer, a follower of Jesus, the kind of gratitude that we feel should surpass that of an unbeliever, because there’s this great feeling of our undeserving nature for God’s goodness and kindness. So there should be something different about our lives as believers. They’re to be marked by continual thanksgiving.

That means that we’re going to have to fight in gratitude at times. I know that there are seasons when I’m not nearly as grateful as I should be, and I don’t express gratefulness as much as I should, and perhaps you can relate to that. So we have to fight in gratitude, feelings of entitlement and well, how do we do that? How do we do it, especially if we’re not feeling particularly grateful? Well, the primary way that we can do that, friends, is to expose our minds repeatedly to what Scripture tells us about our life before coming to faith and then as a result of coming to faith.

And my favorite place in Scripture to remind myself of these things and of all that I have to be grateful for, is Ephesians chapter two, verses one through ten. Ephesians two, one through ten. I’m not going to read that for us here in this particular recording, but I do encourage you to take a look at those verses. I love how it describes that we were dead in our sins and our trespasses when God found us and rescued us and brought us to salvation. We were living in darkness without hope and how God rescued us and brought us into a life of hope and a life that is full and abundant and eternal.

And that passage in Ephesians also reminds us that it’s by God’s grace that we’re saved and made right with Him. That’s not a result of our good works or our striving. It is God’s good pleasure to bring us into his kingdom and into his family. And when I think about that, that just motivates me to feel and to be more grateful. And I think that that will be true of yourself.

We need to deal with the reality and the ugliness of our depravity and of our sin and the greatness of God’s grace and mercy and love towards us. His faithfulness, his mercies are new every morning. We should never stop giving thanks for that. Now, we’re not always going to feel thankful, that’s for sure. So what we need to do is understand that sometimes the thinking and the doing often leads to emotion or to feeling.

And so if you’re not feeling particularly grateful, do it anyway. The thinking and the doing often leads to the feeling. CS. Lewis points out how there’s sometimes a very thin line between pretending to feel something and then actually beginning to feel something. So as we think about all that we have to be grateful for, as we give thanks even when we’re not particularly feeling it, we will, I think, over the course of time, begin to actually then have those feelings of gratitude as well.

But there’s a reason that it’s not called thanks feeling. It’s called Thanksgiving. We’re to give thanks in all circumstances that’s God’s will for us. So, just in summary, I want to encourage us this season to be full of gratitude and to understand that gratitude and thankfulness is a byproduct of a life lived with God. It’s not something you have to grit your teeth to be able to do.

Now, some seasons of life, sure, you’re going through trials and difficulties. Gratitude doesn’t just rise to the surface automatically. But we need to discipline ourselves to fight those feelings of ingratitude and perhaps entitlement and continually come back to what God has done for us in the past, what he’s doing for us even now, how God works even in the difficult circumstances on our behalf to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. He’s going to bring good out of at. He’s able to do that, but then also to focus our minds on what God is going to do in the future.

Friends, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and a holiday season. We’re grateful for you. Thanks for joining us today.