Perhaps there is never a person who ever disappoints us as much as an ingrate. “What is an ingrate?” you ask. An ingrate is a person who presumes upon the goodness of another. In fact, from the spiritual point of view, ingratitude expresses immaturity. Small children do not always appreciate what parents do for them. Like the spiritually immature, a small child’s concern is not what a parent did for him or her yesterday, but what the parents doing for the child right now.
The spiritually mature appreciate those who labored for them in the past. A spiritually mature person understands that a relationship with another—whether the relationship is with another person or even with God—is a relationship that takes into account past, present, and future.
The story of Andrew Carnegie, a multimillionaire in the early part of last century, depicts a tragic sense of ingratitude. When Carnegie’s will was probated, he left $1 million to one of his relatives, who in return cursed Carnegie because he had left $365 million to public charities and had cut him off with just one measly million. This reminds us of an old saying about those who complain too much: “You will find that, as a rule, those who complain about the way the ball bounces are usually the ones who dropped it.”
When Mahatma Gandhi was the spiritual leader of India, some missionaries asked him, “What is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in India?” He replied curtly, “Christians.”
Jesus himself told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has lost its taste, with what shall it be salted? It is thereafter good for nothing but to be thrown out and walked on” (Matthew 5:13).
Truly thankful Christians are people who are spiritually mature. They, like Paul, thank God in all circumstances and remember the things that God has bestowed. Thankfulness does not have to wait for prosperity and peace. It’s always a good time to praise God for the “wondrous things” God has done. Those who understand faithfulness also understand the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Those who are truly and authentically thankful know the truth of the Apostle Paul’s words:
“See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18).
Paul and Jesus each knew what the sacrifice of thanksgiving was all about!