The year 2011 finally came to an end. So let’s do a little reflection. I’m sure that there are many ups and downs, highs and lows, rejoicing and mourning, victories and losses. But are we thankful for the past year? And not only for the good things, but also for the bad ones? Let’s look what the Bible says about thankfulness, or gratefulness.
The Sin of Ungratefulness
Second Timothy 2:1-4 on godlessness in the last days:
1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (Emphasis added)
The passage tells us that ungratefulness is a manifestation of godlessness. So in the last days, ungrateful people will abound. Actually, we are already living in the last days, and these people are almost everywhere.
Additionally, the Bible commands us to give thanks to God. The Psalms exhorts us to do so. Some are:
2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; / let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (95:2)
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving, / and his courts with praise! / Give thanks to him; bless his name! / 5For the LORD is good; / his steadfast love endures forever, / and his faithfulness to all generations. (100:4-5)
1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, / for his steadfast love endures forever. / 2Give thanks to the God of gods, / for his steadfast love endures forever. / 3Give thanks to the Lord of lords, / for his steadfast love endures forever. (136:1-3)
In the New Testament, we are also called to be thankful:
6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)
16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
So if the Bible commands us to give thanks, or to be thankful, or grateful, then not doing so is plain disobedience. Not doing so is sin. Ungratefulness, therefore, is a sin.
The Ground of Our Gratefulness
Sure, it isn’t always easy to be grateful. And it seems cold of the Bible to tell us to give thanks always (“in all circumstances”). But there is one clear ground for our gratefulness. Ephesians 2:8-9:
8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
We have been saved by grace and through faith! For a sinful humanity doomed to hell (see Romans 3:23, 6:23, Revelation 21:8), this is definitely good news. And Jesus saved us “that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). That He might bring us to God! This is truly good news!
We can’t afford to be grateful. Remember this: Redeemed people are grateful people. So if you are tempted to be ungrateful, remember what Jesus did for you. Go back to the Gospel! And explode into thanksgiving towards the God who graced and saved us, not only to remove us from hell, but also to bring us to Himself.