By Robin Johnson
One of my favorite pastimes is reading. Even as a child I could often be found with a book in my hand. The library was one of my favorite places to visit. As an adult, my heart overflows with gratitude towards biblically sound authors who use their giftedness to point us to Christ. Such an author is Nancy Leigh Demoss Wolgemuth. In her book, Choosing Gratitude, is where my subject matter for this article rests.
Oswald Chambers said it well: "The thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin." Therefore, doesn't it make sense that the sin that would shut off the "well of gratitude" towards God would be ingratitude? "Ingratitude is the taproot out of which grows a host of other sins" (Choosing Gratitude, p. 51). Ingratitude cultivates a heart of pride, entitlement, resentment, selfishness, fear, complaining, anger, and many other ugly attitudes. As a whole, we can see this in our desensitized society where entitlement and resentment are wrapped around many hearts. But wait, we can understand why the world expresses ingratitude, they have not embraced the truth of God's Word or the gift of salvation in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Their well is empty.
Dear brothers and sisters, as God's children we as individuals should not be characterized as an ungrateful, complaining person. Please ask yourself these questions:
Have I taken that first step away from God because of my ungrateful heart?
Have I taken that first step away from my spouse, friend, or family member because of my ungrateful heart?
Sandwiched in the middle of Romans 1, Paul lists acts of unrighteousness and their consequences is seen in verse 21: "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." The seemingly insignificant element of ingratitude is at the root of a host of other evils listed in this chapter. We as believers must guard our hearts from the mustard seed-sized sin of ingratitude. May you be encouraged to "put off" an ungrateful heart and "put on" a heart of thankfulness/gratitude.
Christian gratitude directed towards God Himself changes your outlook! We are able to view everything—yes everything—through the eyes of thankfulness. Christ set this example during the Passover observance. He pauses three times to give thanks. Remember this is right before His betrayal, arrest, trial, and painful crucifixion. He gives thanks! He knew what was going to happen to Him physically and spiritually and He gave thanks to God, His Father.
I love how God's Word is always very practical. After examining your heart and seeing ungratefulness within it, repent of it and begin disciplining yourself to express gratitude to God, your spouse, family, friends, co-workers, boss, etc. Please allow God's word, good authors, and faithful friends to help you change for your joy in Christ and for the glory of God.
I wish to close with a final thought from Nancy: "The fact is, we cannot whine and complain and be filled with the Spirit at the same time. When a thankful spirit resides in our hearts and expresses itself on our lips, it's evident that the Holy Spirit lives in us, that we are yielding to His control, and that He is producing His gracious fruit in and through our lives." May I add here if the opposite is true of you, that you are known as a complainer and seldom grateful for anything or anyone that you need to ask yourself, does the Holy Spirit truly reside within me? If gratitude is a struggle for you, please read Nancy’s book, Choosing Gratitude; she will point you to Christ—and you will be thankful she did.