AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE 6-24-18
An Attitude of Gratitude
June 24, 2018
I originally had a totally different theme and topic planned for this Sunday; however, as is often the case, the Lord had other ideas. The day I started trying to put together the service, one interruption after another delayed my progress, so I gave up in frustration. Then the following morning we had a directors meeting at Evenglow; and when I walked into the room, there on the white board I saw written: “Unexpressed Gratitude is experienced as Ingratitude”. I quickly realized that this was why the Lord kept throwing things in my path, so that I would wait for what He wanted to say to His people. And isn’t that just like all of us sometimes. We get so busy and try to rush through so much that we don’t hear what the Lord is trying to tell us. And in our hectic lives, we also forget to say ‘thanks’.
In today’s Children’s Message, I asked the children to list 12 things they are thankful for, and to thank God for them. I bet if you really thought about it, you could come up with far more than 12 things you are thankful for. We celebrated Father’s Day last Sunday, and Mother’s Day a month ago. When was the last time you thanked God for your parents? If they are still alive, how often have you told them “Thank you for all you have done for me”? Is one day a year really enough? If you are a parent, when was the last time you thanked God for your children? And how about your spouse? Do you take what they do for you and for the family for granted? Or worse, do you constantly criticize and demand more? Ed and I say “thank you” to each other many times each day. Thank you for making breakfast, thank you for mowing the lawn, thank you for making me smile, thank you for listening. And I can count the number of times we have had a fight in the last 20 years on one hand. When someone feels appreciated, they are eager to devote their time and energy, and even to go above and beyond, whether it be in the home, the workplace, or the church. Encouragement goes a long way towards a job well done. Even Jesus promised us that our work here on earth will not go unappreciated. His devoted believers, who honor the Lord with their lives here on earth, will hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” when they stand before Him (Matthew 25:21).
Sometimes we might get so caught up in the excitement of answered prayer that we forget to thank God, like 9 out of the 10 lepers who got healed in our first Scripture reading (Luke 17:11-19). The one that did come back to thank Jesus wasn’t even a Jew, but was a Samaritan. In our day, that would be like 9 loyal church members getting healed along with a foreign immigrant that some might even be tempted to say “doesn’t belong in America”. But only the immigrant was grateful enough to take the time to give thanks. We would like to think that we wouldn’t be like those 9 loyal church members, right? But would we be???
Or maybe you think God doesn’t care if we thank Him or not. Maybe you don’t think of Him as being able to have His feelings hurt, or think that because He loves us He will just overlook our neglect to express our gratitude. In our second Scripture reading (2 Chronicles 32:24-26), God answered King Hezekiah’s prayer to be healed of a terminal illness. But Hezekiah didn’t have an attitude of gratitude. Instead, the Bible said he had a proud attitude, as did his people in Judah and Jerusalem. This made God upset. God didn’t have to answer His prayer. God didn’t have to heal him. Fortunately, Hezekiah realized he “was being a brat”. And when both he and the residents of Jerusalem humbled themselves and adopted an attitude of gratitude, God quickly forgave them.
Think of it this way, how do you feel when you go out of your way to do something nice for someone, and they can’t even take 2 seconds to say “thank you”? And then they ask you to do something else for them? Each time it gets a little more difficult to keep helping them. Many of God’s people become foreign missionaries. My husband made what I believe is a very keen observation in regards to this. When you help someone in a poor country, someone who is in a desperate situation, someone who is begging for a shred of good news, a hope of something better, even just a drink of fresh water – both physical and spiritual, they are almost always extremely grateful. But so often in this country there is a ‘sense of entitlement’. Those very words make me cringe. I see so many children – and adults – who think the world owes them something. And they treat other people in this way as well. There is no sense of gratefulness, but rather a sense of “is that the best you can do?” So why do some people expect that others should thank them - but think they do not owe anyone else the same courtesy?
The apostle Paul, in our third Scripture reading (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, 11-12) told the church at Thessalonica that he thanked God for them. And likewise I thank God for all of you. I have seen some extraordinary work for the Lord being done through you. As Paul said, I have seen your faith flourish and your love for one another grow. And I also tell other churches about you. The Lord spoke to my heart as well through this message that He gave me for this morning. There are people I wish I would have thanked more often. There are many times I wish I would have thanked the Lord more, too. But right now I am telling you that I do indeed thank God for all of you, and I will keep on praying for you that, as Paul said, God may “give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do”.
So as you go through the coming week, every time you receive a blessing from God, no matter how small, thank Him for it. And as the Bible says, thank Him for what you consider a trial as well (1 Thessalonians 5:18), because God will use it for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). And any time someone says or does something that makes you smile, thank them for it. Gratitude is contagious. A ‘thank you’ from you might turn their whole day around, and they in turn will then thank someone else and turn their day around, and on down the line. Thank you for listening - and for being a part of this church! Amen.
Closing Video: “Thank You Lord” (Don Moen)
Are you like one of the nine? Or are you like the one that gave thanks?