Thanksgiving has come and gone, Christmas is almost here, and if we are not careful, our thankfulness has disappeared quicker than Grandma’s pumpkin pie. We know we are to be thankful more than one day a year, but it’s easy to let our gratitude dwindle and disappear. We know that God commands us to give thanks – always, in every thing – and yet we often fail to obey.
I recently shared some thoughts about struggling during the Christmas season. Many times we have a hard time with joy and thankfulness because of losses that are entirely out of our control (losses of loved ones, changes in circumstances, etc.), but sometimes we struggle because we have allowed a grateful heart to be stolen away from us.
Satan is a robber. He is cunning and devious, and is constantly looking for ways to come in and rob us of many things, including our gratitude, our contentment, our peace, and our joy. We guard against thieves who would steal our material belongings. How much more should we be on guard in our hearts and homes against those thieves that would steal what is truly precious?
Has your gratitude been stolen? If so, you may not even realize it yet. We often are unaware of our own ungratefulness, but the easiest way to realize it is gone is by recognizing one or more of these attitudes that has removed it and taken its place. Here are seven of the most common “grrrr”-attitudes:
- Skewed Expectations – This attitude slips in quietly and whispers, “I dream”. With beautiful imaginings and unrealistic fantasies, this robber steals our appreciation for the simple realities of everyday life. It causes us to be dissatisfied with relationships, people, circumstances, and more because they can never quite meet our expectations.
- A Sense of Entitlement – Entitlement says, “I deserve.” He walks up boldly with his hand out, and feels it is well within his rights not only to take what you give him, but to steal from you the moment you turn your back. This character is never grateful for anything, even from God, because he feels it was already his to start with. When we adopt this attitude, we often become very unhappy because we feel that everyone, including God, owes us something.
- Stockpiled Excess – This thief smirks, “I don’t need anything or anyone, but I want”. Rather than seeing his abundant blessings as a gift from God to be shared with others, he is greedy and selfish, and never satisfied. He, like the church in Laodicea, sees himself as “rich, and increased with goods, and…” having “need of nothing”.
- Sinful Egotism – A close relative of Entitlement, this thief asserts, “I demand.” Willful, narcissistic, and never happy unless life is revolving around himself and his desires, he may appear outwardly thankful when he is getting his way, but he is never inwardly thankful. Sadly, it is easy to embrace this proud and selfish attitude, but it is the opposite of the humble, giving, surrendered spirit that God desires us to have.
- Spiteful Envy – This thief is constantly complaining, and you will often hear him saying, “I despise.” He despises who he is, what he has, and others, because rather than looking with thankfulness at what God has given, he is constantly comparing it to what someone else has. Envy is too busy coveting the blessings of others to count his own. Envy is the thief who comes in and chooses to destroy what others have rather than to be happy that they have it. When we allow envy into our hearts, we will eventually become consumed with it.
- Slothful Ease – Another cousin of Entitlement, he says, “I desire, but I will not work.” This crook could have what he needs, but he is too lazy to work for it. He cries and whines about all the things he wishes he had, and what others owe him, but he will scarcely get out of bed to feed himself. Thankfulness requires too much effort. When you consider being thankful, this attitude will tell you it’s too hard, too time-consuming, too much trouble.
- Sidetracked Extensions – This thief is very sneaky. He simply says, “I delay.” He gets you to procrastinate, get distracted, and put off being thankful. You may feel grateful, but rather than expressing your thanks, he tells you, “Do it later. Say it later.” This may be the most subtle and dangerous and attitude of all, for when we allow this attitude to be a part of our lives, we become unthankful simply by postponement. Gratefulness unexpressed is thankfulness unreceived.
A grateful heart says, “I am a debtor. I will be thankful for every detail of my life – the small and the large, the perfect and the imperfect – because life itself is a gift from God. I will give my expectations to Him, and having food and raiment, I will be content. I will work hard for what I have, and be thankful to God for the strength, and thankful to others for the opportunity. As God blesses me, I will do my utmost to share His goodness with those around me. I will be grateful for God’s mercy, because what I truly deserve is judgment. I will thank God for His grace, because I do not deserve any of His goodness to me. I will be content with such things as I have, for He has promised never to leave or forsake me. I will offer Him the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving every day, because He is worthy. I will be thankful to, and for, others, because God is using them in my life.”
Are you grateful today? Have you expressed your thankfulness to God, and to those around you? Have any (or many) or these “grrr-attitudes” taken over in your life and stolen away your grateful heart? Do you recognize any of these attitudes in your children? Don’t delay. Get rid of these attitudes! God will forgive you if you will repent. Ask Him to help you chase away these bad attitudes, and to make you truly grateful. Have a grateful heart today and every day!
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thes. 5:18)