We've all had the unfortunate experience of doing something for someone and never hearing a simple "thank you" in return. It makes us feel sad, perhaps a little hurt or even a little angry, when we have really gone out of our way to help someone. We may think, "How dare they not appreciate what I did for them!" Google the words "un-thankfulness" or "ungrateful people" or "ingratitude" and you'll get hundreds of thousands to millions of results.
Apparently, it's all too common.
It is a sign of the times in which we live. In Paul's letter to Timothy, he said that ingratitude would be one of the evils found in the last days."This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be …unthankful…." (2 Timothy 3:1-2). We shouldn't be surprised when we encounter it.
Each and every one of us has had our fair share of experiences dealing with ungrateful people. And it's not just the average person who has experienced ingratitude. Many of the world's notables have encountered it enough to comment about it. Benjamin Franklin said, "Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones – with ingratitude."
William Shakespeare addressed the subject in numerous of his plays. For example, he said, "I hate ingratitude more in a man than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness, or any taint of vie whose strong corruption inhabits our frail blood." And even royalty is not immune, for Louis XIV said, "Every time I appoint someone to a vacant position, I make a hundred unhappy and one ungrateful."
In wrestling with my own feelings about ungrateful people, I've been reminded of God's loving approach. Christ said, "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil" (Luke 6:35). When we give a gift to someone, we should expect nothing in return. When we use our time and energy and resources to help someone, we should not do so with the expectation of receiving anything in return, including a simple "thank you."
Ungrateful people have problems with themselves. They may be self-centered, unloving, rude, angry and hateful. They bear these unhealthy, negative emotions and their stressful consequences. Hopefully, they will come to see it in themselves and decide to change. They would be so much happier if they did. But no one can do it for them.
In this time of Thanksgiving, we need to make sure that we, ourselves, have been and are truly thankful. Knowing the response it arouses in ourselves, we certainly don't want to be guilty of the sin of ingratitude. Indeed, we have so much for which to be thankful. We should be "Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20).
Sadly, the Eternal God has experienced far more ingratitude than any mortal. Of the innumerable gifts given to man, from the creation of man to the present day, God has heard far too few prayers of thanksgiving. Yet, God continues to provide food, clothing and shelter to the believer and the nonbeliever alike. He gives rain to the "just and the unjust." That's not to say that He doesn't use the lack of these to correct as He sees fit, but He simply gives out of love.
A time is coming when God will pour out unbelievable blessing upon all of mankind. Christ will return to the earth to establish His kingdom. Unprecedented peace, happiness and prosperity unlike the world has ever known will be given to a then grateful mankind.