“An Attitude of Gratitude”
2 Timothy 3:1-4, 1 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…”
In the above passage from 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul gives a laundry list of the kinds of actions and attitudes that will be prevalent as our world winds down toward the end of time. He lists offenses like abuse, slander, brutality and treachery. That’s some bad stuff. But hold on. Right in the middle of that list of heinous sins he lists “ungrateful”. Seriously? Does he really mention ingratitude in the same list with things like treachery, brutality and slander? It almost seems out of place, doesn’t it? We all agree that ingratitude isn’t a good thing, but should it really be included in that list?
I think so because, in a way, every temptation begins with ingratitude. Think about the first sin that took place in the Garden of Eden. If you remember the story, God created Adam and Eve, put them in that incredible garden, and gave them the run of the place. There was only one thing that he forbid them to do and that was to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (you may have heard it called an apple tree—not sure where that legend got started). The serpent (Satan) shows up and tells Eve that God is ripping them off by not letting them have the fruit of that tree. As she thought about it, ingratitude crept into her heart and soon, instead of focusing on all that she had, all she could think about was what she didn’t have and soon ingratitude drove her to disobey. And it’s been that way ever since. Ingratitude is a telltale sign that we don’t trust God or appreciate what he has given us, and when that happens, it can lead to all kinds of other problems. Ingratitude is deadly because it opens the door to so many issues.
In this month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, let me challenge you to work on your attitude of gratitude. It will open your life to the incredible grace and goodness of God and will protect you from a host of destructive actions and attitudes. Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” I think he may have been right.
Tim Purcell, Superintendent of the Iowa/Minnesota District of the Wesleyan Church