Special Note: This article is included in Jim’s book “An Attitude of Thankfulness” along with 19 other articles and is available for purchase in Paperback and eBook formats at this link: Jim’s Books
Over the past six months I have written a number of articles on thankfulness and thanksgiving. Possessing an attitude of thankfulness is a rich blessing for the Christian. Thankfulness is a positive response to the grace of God. But there are times for all of us, even Christians, when it is really difficult to be thankful. Think about … the times of rebellion by a wayward teenager … the children that have to live through the their parents nasty divorce … the father who has small children, has lost his wife to cancer, and is attempting to carry on a normal life … the parents who are grieving over the loss of their son or daughter due to a tragic and senseless automobile accident caused by a drunk driver … the wife who sees no way out of her physically abusive marriage. The list could go on endlessly. These are certainly examples of times in our lives where it would be difficult to be thankful. Such times can bring on a temporary state of great sorrow and distress. But God always understands our situation and is ready to provide us His unparalleled healing, comfort and loving kindness. Even in the toughest of situations Christians can and should be thankful for God’s manifold blessings.
So, what is meant by the term “thanklessness?” Thanklessness is the opposite of thankfulness. Thanklessness is a negative response to God’s grace. Thanklessness is the failure or refusal to acknowledge the receipt of something good. Continued thanklessness is ungratefulness, the wanton and deliberate lack of appreciation, ingratitude. Thanklessness is rude, offensive, discourteous, and crude. Thanklessness shows great disrespect, disregard. Thanklessness reveals the selfish and hateful side of our human nature. Thanklessness results in bitterness, grumbling, complaining.
Here are some scriptures to consider regarding our topic.
Scripture: (all ESV unless otherwise noted)
Jeremiah 1:16 – 16 And I will declare My judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking Me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands.
1 Chronicles 5:26 – So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.
Romans 1:21 – 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
Thanklessness is in short … a serious sin. Thanklessness dishonors Almighty God, places the focus on man and can lead to serious consequences. Scripture records many historical instances where God’s chosen children, the Hebrews, were at various times in their history continually thankless (כפוי תודה – Hebrew) and suffered greatly for their thanklessness.
In the seventh century BC the prophet Jeremiah, along with others, wrote of the impending doom that Judah faced at the hands of the Assyrians. Jeremiah said in chapter 1 verse 26 that God would declare “judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking … ” “They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands.” The resulting Assyrian captivity of Israel in 722 BC is one prime example of how continual thanklessness for God’s blessings, at least in part, caused the fall of the ten northern tribes (for example, see 1 Chronicles 5 and particularly 5:26). These ten tribes became known as the “lost tribes,” the tribes that would remain in captivity for generations and not re-establish their promised homeland.
Paul wrote his letter to the Roman Christians in approximately 56 AD during his third visit to the city of Corinth (See 2 Corinthians 13:1, Acts 20:2). Paul’s letter anticipated his future visit to Rome where, according to The New Scofield Reference Bible published in 1967, he intended to communicate “the great doctrines of grace that had been revealed to him.” In the very first chapter Paul explains the folly, foolishness and results of Gentile unbelief in Almighty God. In Romans 1:21 Paul points out their thanklessness, their vain imaginations and their darkened hearts. Paul goes on in verse 22-23 to say they claimed to be wise but were actually “fools” exchanging “the glory of the immortal God for images” of mortal man, birds and animals, the results of which were that “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity …”
I contend that this is exactly where the United States is today as a nation. We have legislated immorality, glorified homosexuality and even legalized same-sex marriage all the while persecuting Christians and totally ignoring the teachings of the Word of God. We have legalized and often federally funded abortion, willfully terminating the lives of God’s helpless unborn human creations. There are severe consequences to our sin and in particular for our thanklessness both as individuals and as nations.
Dr. Billy Graham’s November 1, 2012 article “America Under Judgement” appearing in Decision Magazine speaks directly to the results of our nation’s thanklessness.“Why is there such an increase of trouble for America? Could it be that our sins are beginning to catch up with us? Centuries ago Moses warned Israel that if she served God she would be the most blessed of all nations, but if she disobeyed God, terrifying judgment would come. In Deuteronomy 28:65-66, Moses warned: “And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. Moses warned that the enemies of Israel would conquer her if she disobeyed God. We all know the history of Israel. We know that Israel did disobey God and that she suffered one judgment after another. Today America is following the same dangerous path. We worship the gods of secularism and materialism. God is displeased, and I warn you that His anger is being kindled. If ever a nation has enjoyed prosperity and the blessing of God, it is America; but instead of giving thanks to God, we have offered our reverence and worship to created things. As Paul wrote in Romans 1:20-21, “There is therefore no possible defense for their conduct; knowing God, they have refused to honor him as God, or to render him thanks. Hence all their thinking has ended in futility, and their misguided minds are plunged in darkness” (NEB). Could this be the difficulty with some of our leaders today? Has all the planning of the past few years by some of America’s most brilliant intellects begun to end in futility? The Apostle Paul said, “They boast of their wisdom, but they have made fools of themselves.” Then comes the awful judgment—“For this reason God has given them up to the vileness of their own desires” (Romans 1:21, 24, NEB). In other words, the Bible says there will come a day when a nation sins so much against God that God will give them up, and will allow them to go on for a time in pleasure, worldliness, idolatry, wickedness and immorality. The Scripture says that there is pleasure in sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25), but warns that the pleasure will be extremely short-lived and that judgment will follow.”
Christian, when faced with great difficulty, valleys of loneliness, or seemingly insurmountable mountains to climb … don’t despair. Don’t get caught in a state of thanklessness. Realize that Jehovah God is in control. Believe in Him and His goodness. After all, He just may have chosen you for a very special assignment … an assignment that no one else could perform for Him. He knitted you together in the womb. He knows and controls every cell of your body and mind. God is good … “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).
An attitude of thanklessness takes our focus away from the Lord promoting pettiness and occupation with self, people, and problems which in turn cause depression and ultimately hopelessness. Let us place our focus on living as God’s children instead of the world’s children. A thankful child of the Father depends on Him and His triumph over sin. God is not the author of thanklessness. God is the author of thankfulness.
Father, forgive me when I allow my desperation to bring on a state of bitterness and thanklessness. Give me the strength to face the ups and downs of life with the sweet knowledge that God is good and will supply all of my needs. May I ever be found faithful and thankful for your promises. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.
Related Links and Articles:
Related Articles by Jim Davenport:
- An Attitude of Thankfulness
- Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul
- Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul – Update
- Blessings in Disguise – a Thanksgiving Devotional
- An Anchor in the Time of the Storm
- How to Become a Christian
- A Summary of All of Jim Davenport’s Articles
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