Monday, March 17, 2008

A Lack of Appreciation

The Grateful Living: Part 1

From my point of view, Israel complaining in the desert after being freedom from slavery is an amazing thing. They have witnessed God’s power through the plagues visited upon Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea, and yet when things got difficult with food and water instead of trusting God they complained. They were very much people whose gratitude depended on what have you done for me lately. Freedom wasn’t enough to get them to worship and trust God, they demanded that God had to continue to do the miraculous in order for them to worship God.

We can look back on Israel and judge them for their lack of faith and ingratitude, but are we much different? Do we thank God for saving us from our sins or do we demand that He proves Himself over and over again? Would we continue to worship God even if He didn’t bless us anymore? I don’t know about you, but I think I am very much like Israel. I have had a time in my life when I was ready to turn my back on God when He didn’t come through in the way I thought He should. Rather than focusing on the blessings of my life I focused on the problems and as a result I was ungrateful for the life God has given me. Here is the question I have for you to consider: How are you showing your gratitude to God?

The Christmas of 2003 my family, at the suggestion of my brother Tom, went in and bought me a single Christmas present. The bought me a replica of Sting. Sting is the sword Frodo Baggins used in the epic story The Lord of the Rings. This is one of my favorite present that I have ever received (another gift that is one of my favorites is the picture my girlfriend gave me for Christmas this past year). Not only because I am a fan of The Lord of the Rings, but because it also symbolizes the fact that I am on a journey, a quest, that is bigger than I am and the real reason my brother wanted to give it to me for Christmas.

Because my entire family went in on this one gift that Christmas as everyone else is opening their presents I sat there thinking: “Isn’t there more, is this all I get?” I loved the gift, but I wanted more. Ingratitude showed its ugly head and made it hard for me to truly appreciate what I had been given. Like Israel I wanted more.

How ungrateful are you? Consider the following story:
There is something about our condition that make it difficult to thank others. Consider Edward Spencer. Edward Spencer was a ministry student at Northwestern University near Chicago who also was a member of a life-saving team who would assist passengers on Lake Michigan boats. On September 8, 1860, the Lady Elgin floundered near the campus of Northwestern and Edward Spencer risked his life and personally rescued seventeen people. The exposure from the frigid waters from that rescue mission permanently damaged Edward’s health and he was unable to continue to prepare for the ministry. Some years later when he died, it was noted that not one of the seventeen people he saved ever came back to thank him (pg. 410, 1001 Great Stories and Quotes)

This ingratitude is not a generational thing but it is a human thing. For whatever reason, whether we think it is what we deserve or just don’t know how to respond, we never take the time to thank those who help us. Jesus experienced the ingratitude from the people He healed. Take a look at what happened when Jesus healed 10 men infected with leprosy:
11 One day, Jesus was traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee on the way to Jerusalem. 12 As he was going into a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance 13 and shouted, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14 When he saw them, he told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” While they were going, they were made clean. 15 But one of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. Now the man was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Ten men were made clean, weren't they? Where are the other nine? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he told the man, “Get up, and go home! Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19; ISV)

Amazing! Only one of the ten men returned to Jesus to worship Him. How easy it is to sit here and judge the nine, but the reality is that we are much more like the nine than we care to admit. We ask God to do things for us, and then we neglect to thank Him when He works in our lives. We need to examine our lives rather than judge the examples of others.

  • Point to Ponder: Ingratitude is not a generational thing but it is a human thing.
  • Passage to Remember: Luke 17:11-19
  • Question to Consider: How are you showing your gratitude to God?

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