A Hard Lesson to Learn
Gratitude Must Be Learned
There are still some people, thank goodness, who remember how to say "thank you" when a kindness is done for them. Gratitude is not something, however, that we are born with. It has to be taught. Teach a child to do and say whatever it wants and it will not only not know how to say 'thank you' in this life but won't thank you in the next life either.
Our gratitude for good turns done, moreover, seems to be in proportion to physical scale. Give your son a $5 and then give him $5,000 and you can be pretty sure that the "thank you" for the second gift will be greater than for the first, even if the love behind both gifts is the same.
We should be as grateful for the small things as for the big because our gratitude should not be after the carnal eyes but the spiritual. Ask a mother who loves her children and she will tell you. A little child can't usually give a gift of $5,000, let alone $1. A small child who doesn't possess anything will give what it can -- even if it is a crumpled up daisy from the garden. The thought was kind even if the physical object wasn't must. Our gratitude should be in proportion to the thought or feeling.
As a teacher I get a lot of compliments at school, many of them insincere and belonging to that dubious sphere of immoral intent called flattery. Some are sincere and they are greatly appreciated. Children, in their turn, appreciate the compliments of their teacher, particularly if they have particularly low self-esteem. By and large, though, children are unthankful. For them school is a necessary grind. They have not discovered the joy of learning. They do it either because they are compelled to or because of the driving engine of carnal rewards: "no education, no job, no money, no fancy car, no adulation by pretty girls, etc..". Others do it because everyone else is doing it and they don't want to be "left out". Social acceptance is motive behind much of what people do. "Tow the line and we'll accept you and show our gratitude." It's the way of all dictatorial systems -- peer pressure, peer approval.
Spontaneous Gratitude the Best
What I like is spontaneous gratitude. I experienced that the other day. At the end of a lesson at school a little 8 year-old girl suddenly flung her arms around me and held me tightly for about 10 seconds. She never said a word. She didn't care what the others in her class thought. It was a spontaneous "thank you" the likes of which I have never reveived from a pupil. I was completely bowled over. It made my day!
I imagine that it that sort of gratitude that God likes best from us. Unfortunately, we give little of it to Him because the realm in which we are supposed to be grateful for -- eternal life and endless love -- is theoretical for most. For many Christians it just hasn't happened yet in a way that is real and 'now' for them.
Actually, God is pouring gifts upon us all the time but we are too insensible to see them. And why are we insensible? Because we measure with carnal eyes.
I've seen Christians praise and thank God for a supernatural miracle. Who, but the hardest-hearted, would't! Sometimes when I get home in winter my son clears all the now -- it's a big, back-breaking job, and because it's so big and readily noticeable it's easy to be thankful.
Now picture a garden full of stones and rocks that needs to be cleared. (That's very typical here in Norway). Every day, without fail, your daughter goes out and removes five stones. You come home each day and you don't notice. For weeks and weeks this goes on. Months roll by. Until finally, after a year, you suddenly realise that the garden hasn't got any more stones and rocks in it anymore. All is smooth, soft lawn. But what happened to the gratitude?
The $1 jobs that God does for us every day adds up to a lot more than $3,000 at the end of our life. Unfortunately, because we live in an "instant food" society where you buy something off the shelf and throw it away just because the fashion changes, we lose all senstitivity to the little things which ultimately mean the most. "Take care of the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves," my mother used to teach me. Children rarely save these days -- they spend everything they get. "Live for today!" Trouble is, they "die" tomorrow.
Do-It-Yourself False Christianity
Religion has become a bit like that too. "If it's not instant salvation, it's not for me." "Give me signs and wonders -- NOW!!" Christianity, true salvation and the miracles that last forever are the antithesis of this mentality which is why Christianity is not too popular today in our post-Christian world of "New Paganism". People aren't grateful anymore. Today in war-tirmn countries the unthinkable is happening to Red Cross and welfare workers -- they're kidnapping and murdering them! When grattitude dies, so does the essence of what it to be human. People become mere commodities or things useful only to furthering others' quests for self-esteem and empire-building. People are expendable like throw-away candy-wrappers.
A Journey, Not a Jackpot
Many people came to the New Covenant Church in its early days expecting to become £3,000 'instant prophets' or to experience 'instantaneous miracles'. When God gave out His $1 blessings every day they were blind to them. After 9 years of ministry the seekers of instant prophes and miracles disappeared claiming there were no fruits. They weren't looking in the right place. The remanant that stayed behind saw things differently. They saw that over 9 years huge inner transformations had taken place and in that they rejoiced and thanked the Lord. The others went home, waiting for $3,000 pentecostal anointings to fall out the sky while at the same time they reverted back to their own fallen, carnal ways -- drinking, smoking, bad music, confused theology, and the like. In 9 years thet'll still be waiting for their $3,000 and their theology (if there is one left) will have changed beyond recogition into an ever greater mass of confusion. The rest, meantime, will be gratefully receiving their daily $1 and watching their spiritual treasury grow.
Sometimes $3,000 blessings fall out of the sky for God's people but we are very unwise to sit around waiting for it expectantly especially if the Lord hasn't promised it. Right now we're waiting for a $2,000,000 (literally) one because that has been promised. When it comes (God willing), there will be jubilation and praise. But I wonder, will we continue to remember those $1 blessings which come each day just as the girl cleared away a few stones without being noticed? Our gratitude for the $1 should be as great as for the $2,000,000 because the love behind them both is exactly the same.
I pray with all my soul that we will focus our thanks on the $1 blessings for then, I know, the bigger ones will take care of themselves. Amen.
This page was created on 12 April 1998
Last updated on 12 April 1998
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