I feel strong displeasure for unappreciative people. It is frustrating to prepare a special meal, plan a party, find a special gift uniquely suited for that person, or some other unexpected show of appreciation only to be met with a mumbled “thanks,” or, worse yet, no thanks at all. It is more disturbing to go out of your way to do something special for someone and they react as if we owed them or that what we did was nothing special. I do not think that it is praise that we want; we want other people to recognize and appreciate the effort exerted for them. Is God angered when we ignore His kindness?
I wonder sometimes God’s reaction when He blesses richly and some fail to notice or thank Him. Sometimes we do not express the common courtesy to God that we do with people. When Jesus healed ten lepers and only one returned to give thanks, Jesus noticed.
Thanksgiving should characterize our life. It should be a natural part of our personality to notice what others do for us and give thanks. It means much to the person who serves us at the restaurant or from whom we buy services; yes it is their job to do this but we should show the appreciation that we would like if we were in their position. We may start to realize just how much others do for us if we look for opportunities to thank others for their consideration and efforts.
Some people have problems giving thanks
Some are not thankful. A person with an exalted self-perception who sees no need for God will feel no debt of thanks to Him. Some are dissatisfied with the way their life turned out but cannot see the good things that they can thank God for. These people moan and gripe that things are not going their way and cannot see the good for their self-imposed misery. They can’t find blessings in adversity. Those who are thankful have a sense of gratitude for what God has done and wonderment as to why He is concerned about them.
Some people are forgetful. Some make supplication to God but forget to thank Him for His blessings. Luke 17:11-19 records the story of ten lepers healed by Jesus but only one returned to Jesus to give him thanks. No one hears the expression of thankfulness you forgot to send. Thank people immediately so you will not forget.
How can we become more thankful?
Consider how you have been blessed
People are often fond of asking, “why me?” Usually we ask, “Why am I sick, being laid off work, or having financial problems.” We do not usually ask
- “Why was I born into a country with many great freedoms including the freedom to assemble and worship God as I should?”
- “Why was I born into a family or blessed with friends who taught me the gospel?”
- “Why me? Why do I live in a country with the best medical treatment available so that I do not suffer many chronic illnesses and am able, if I listen to the doctor, to live a long, healthy life?”
- “Why was I born in a city that is not in constant turmoil from warring parties trying to destroy each other? Why do I go to bed at night without the sound of gunshots and bombs exploding outside?”
- “Why am I able to read when 861 million people (2/3 of which are women) cannot read?”
- “Why am I able to ask, ‘what’s for dinner?’ when millions in the world have no food to eat?”
- “Why do I have a Bible, translated into my native language, that I can own when, for many centuries Bibles were only kept by the elite scholars and very wealthy people?”
- There are many more things that we could ask, “why me,” but these are sufficient to remind us that we are far more blessed than we could possibly imagine.
Make thankfulness part of your daily prayers
According to Philippians 4:6-7 thanksgiving should be part of your daily prayers. Notice that thanksgiving is linked with supplication—appealing to God to grant a request. We should not be afraid to bring our requests to God but we must remember to thank Him for listing, for His wisdom in answering, and for the answer we receive.
According to Colossians 2:2 we are to be vigilant in prayer (implies diligence and watchfulness) with thanksgiving to God. Thanksgiving in prayer should not be occasional nor should we need to be reminded to thank God. We should constantly be aware of the blessings that surround us and give thanks to God for them.
Practice Thankfulness at Home
Thankfulness and gratitude should fill our homes. Spouses should thank each other often for the things they do for one another. Thank your spouse for being married to you and putting up with you. Thank your spouse for the work they do around the house, or the work that brings in income for the house. Thank them for coming home to you at night and not going out to bars or participating in behavior that would endanger the marriage. Do not forget the common courtesies; thanking them when they refill your tea glass, when they pass the biscuits, when they get your door…
Parents should teach their children by example and thank them for things they do and, sometimes, for being themselves. Thank them for being good children and point out something in particular that they do well. Thank them for the drawings, crafts, and other things they make for you. Parents and teachers encourage kids to say “please” and “thank you” early in life so they will notice and appreciate acts of kindness. We get frustrated with adults that forgot this lesson.
Children, especially, should thank their parents often. They sacrifice much for their children. They provide opportunities for entertainment, personal development, and recreation. They provide spiritual opportunities and, hopefully, instill Bible-based lessons for living. Thank your mom or dad each time they make food for you. Thank them for letting you participate in sports, take music or art lessons, or get involved in school activities. Thank them for bringing you to church services and teaching you about God and trying to help you understand how to be a decent person.