As the course progressed, something was brought out that caught me by surprise, but which proved to be true. The instructor stated, “Never expect gratitude! If you do, you will be disappointed. If you receive gratitude, enjoy it and appreciate it, for it is very rare.” While I may have had an inkling that this was true, hearing it stated so bluntly was a surprise.
Indeed, whether among business clients, employees, friends and even relatives, a lack of thankfulness is all too common. And yet, expressing gratitude is such a basic courtesy, and a mark of good manners, that it is really disappointing to see it so seldom expressed.
This is not a new phenomenon. In Jesus Christ’s day, it seems to have been a prevailing attitude as well. For example, as Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem from Galilee, He met ten men who were lepers, ostracized from society because of their disease. Luke records the incident this way, “Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well’” (Luke 17:12-19).
Imagine: ten men were miraculously healed of a fatal disease that had rendered them social outcasts, but only one of them felt it important to return to thank Jesus for the miracle that delivered them. And, as the verse reveals, the thankful man was not a Hebrew, but a Samaritan—a member of a group usually treated with disdain by the Hebrews. What a comment on human nature!
The Apostle Paul, instructing the young evangelist Timothy, warned that these attitudes would only grow worse. He wrote, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
Notice that, in this long list of undesirable characteristics, being “unthankful”—having a lack of gratitude—is listed prominently. But there is an easy fix, if we are willing to put it into practice. If we start and end each day by expressing heartfelt gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His many blessings, His great plan and His unfailing mercy toward all of us, then we will be far more likely to remember to thank others with whom we interact throughout the day. Paul put it this way, reminding us to “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1Thessalonians 5:18).
In the press of events in our stressful times, we can too easily overlook this basic but important trait. But Christians who obey their Savior can have divine help in developing this aspect of God’s own character in our lives. To learn more about God’s intervention in human lives, read our powerful booklet, Prophecy Fulfilled: God’s Hand in World Affairs, and watch our Tomorrow’s World telecast, “Answered Prayer”—they will be a real help in pursuing an attitude of gratitude.