Are you guilty of being unthankful – unappreciative of your many blessings? You need to develop the habit of being grateful — for everything!
Never before in the long history of mankind have human beings been blessed so bountifully. Never before have so many — especially in America, Britain and the Commonwealth — been able to enjoy so many physical blessings. But, also, never before has this earth witnessed such widespread ingratitude! Why should unthankfulness be so prevalent in this era of unprecedented wealth and prosperity? And, most important of all, what can you do to make sure you don't either become or remain a helpless victim of this all-too-prevalent sin of ingratitude? How can you prevent the octopus-like clutches of this worldwide sin from strangling much of your happiness? More than 1,900 years ago, the apostle Paul foretold today's world conditions: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves ... unthankful, unholy" (II Tim. 3: 1-2). How many of us are truly grateful to our very Creator for the many blessings He has permitted us to enjoy? And how many of us are thankful even to our fellow human beings for the many blessings, services and benefits we receive from them?
An awful prophecy
Consider a historical example of ingratitude. God Almighty delivered the nation Israel from terrible Egyptian bondage. He miraculously saved them from the slaughter of the Egyptian pharaoh's terrifying army. Also, He fed them with manna, and in the dry, barren desert, He sustained them with water out of the rock. But they still grumbled and complained continually (Num. 14-17). They weren't really thankful for the many blessings He had so lavishly bestowed upon them. Because of their unbelievable ingratitude, God finally gave them over to destruction. They all, except Joshua and Caleb, perished in the barren wilderness of Sinai – without ever reaching the promised land, the land of milk and honey.
One of the most awful prophecies in the entire Bible reveals why God sometimes lets terrible calamities, even national invasion and captivity, come upon ungrateful nations. This horrifying prophecy, which applies to our Anglo-Saxon peoples, is found in Deuteronomy 28. It was given nearly 4,000 years ago. God promised countless blessings to those who would obey Him – to those who would really follow His ways (verses 1-14). But He also revealed that terrible curses would overtake the nation that turned its back on Him — that flagrantly broke His holy and righteous commandments (verses 15-68). Why will these curses come upon our people — upon our own friends and relatives — unless they repent? "Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want [lack] of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee" (verses 47-48). This terrifying prophecy is directed squarely at the peoples of America, Britain and the Anglo-Saxon members of the Commonwealth — unless we repent of our present downward moral and spiritual plunge into total depravity. (If you don't know where the United States, Britain and the Commonwealth are mentioned in the Bible, be sure to write for our free booklet, The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)
Moses' solemn warning
Shortly before his death, the elderly Moses gave a solemn warning to the people of Israel — and to their descendants, to our very people — not to forget their God. He assured Israel of old (our forefathers) that we (their descendants) would inherit "a good land" — a land possessing lots of water, natural resources and abundant crops (Deut. 8:6-9). Then Moses was inspired to give this sobering warning: "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God" (verses 10-14). If our people began to forget God and refused to live according to God's laws, then terrible calamity was certain to overtake them. God Almighty continued His warning through His servant, Moses: "And thou [Israel] say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day" (verses 17-18). If Israel did forget her God, doom would be certain, warned Moses: "And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish" (verse 19). Again, let us ask ourselves: Are we really thankful to almighty God — every day — for the many blessings we have received?
Don't take blessings for granted
Do we always give our Creator thanks for the food on our table, before we partake of it? How many of those who "say grace" are really thankful? How many merely repeat certain words, parrot fashion, while "saying grace"? God's Word reveals that we should always pray from the heart – not just repeat words like a phonograph record (Matt. 6:7). Yes, how many (or how few!) are really grateful for the priceless gift of their very existence? Also, how many of us give God thanks for our eyesight, our hearing, our senses of taste, smell and feeling? How many of us are truly thankful for our ability to speak, and for the ability to use our various members — like our feet and legs for walking? We should not take these many blessings for granted. Some have been struck down by a serious stroke or by some other dreaded affliction and have been made almost totally helpless. Often after such a calamity, they really learn to appreciate the great blessings of sight, hearing, speech, muscular coordination. In one moment — in a flash — your life could be snuffed out in an accident, or your loved ones could be taken from you. A financial crash or a terrible calamity, such as a nuclear war, could instantly turn a normal, pleasant existence into a nightmare. In the twinkling of an eye your heart could stop and all that you think is yours could be taken from you and given to someone else. Rigor mortis is no respecter of persons! "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content" (I Tim. 6:7-8). Material things of themselves do not bring us happiness. "But godliness with contentment is great gain" (verse 6). Christ warned, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). Do you really treasure your health? We are living in a degenerate age — in the last generation of man's 6,000 years of misrule. Granted, few have perfect health. Almost everyone has some infirmities. But do you at least thank God for the measure of health He has mercifully granted you? A few years ago a well-known multimillionaire in the United States reportedly offered a million dollars to anyone who would help find the answer to his terrible health problem — gnawing ulcers. He would gladly have given one million dollars for a new stomach. Here was a wealthy man who could hardly eat anything. He could not enjoy a normal meal a good steak, or other solid foods — like the average person. Nearly three millennia ago, wise King Solomon wrote of such a man: "There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease" (Eccl. 6:1-2). Yes, we all need to realize that God is the One who holds in His hand the power of health, of life, of peace — of everything good.
Thank God — even for trials
People are often tempted to complain of their lot in life. They should never give in to such a temptation. I once heard of a woman who became paralyzed from her neck down. She could only move her head. This could have made her turn sour. She could have become bitter and cynical, but she didn't. Rather, she was thankful that she still had her mental faculties, and was also grateful to God that she could still speak. By using her head, she was able to build up a good real estate business — selling property. She did this by taking a pencil between her teeth and dialing phone numbers. She became a successful and happy person, because she had learned to count her blessings and make the most of what many would have thought was a hopeless situation. Why can't we learn to count our blessings and to thank our Creator for everything — yes, even for trials and tests, which many times turn out to be blessings in disguise? God often permits trials and calamities to befall us to teach us certain lessons — to help us learn some of the true values of life (II Cor. 12:7-10). Knowing this, we should sincerely thank a merciful Creator, even for our sore trials (Jas. 1:2-4). What a pity that people don't really understand this today. Few, even among professing Christians, seem to really grasp the greatness of the God whom they profess to know and serve. "For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole" (Job 5:18).
One in 10 thankful
The type of ingratitude in the world today is aptly illustrated in the incident where Christ healed 10 lepers (Luke 17:12-14). "And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger" (verses 15-18). This type of experience is oft repeated even in our time. There is probably not one in 10 who will so much as turn back and give God thanks. One of the worst possible sins you can commit is the terrible sin of ingratitude. All too many have built up an inveterate habit of continually complaining about everything instead of being thankful. Whether you realize it or not, you have many, many things to be thankful for. Remember the old saying, "I once complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet!"
The almighty Blesser
You need to realize that your very Creator is the One from whom all blessings flow! When God appeared unto Abraham, intending to bless him and his seed, God revealed to Abraham one of His many names — EI Shaddai. "The Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God [Heb., El Shaddai]" (Gen. 17:1). El Shaddai means "the almighty B1esser." The apostle James was inspired to write, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (Jas. I:17). David reveals throughout the book of Psalms the mercy, goodness and boundless blessings of God — blessings God bestows upon all mankind. The entire 103rd Psalm expresses eloquently David's thanks and praise for the many blessings he received from God. "Bless the Lord, 0 my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Ps. 103: 1-5). Our Maker likes to see us overflowing with gratitude — just as we rejoice when someone we help shows appreciation. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me," declares almighty God (Ps. 50:23). The prophets, patriarchs, apostles and Jesus Christ were thankful for their blessings. Christ's apostles rejoiced and praised God, thanking Him that they were even accounted worthy to suffer shame for the sake of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:41). Why can't people realize that it is the Creator God who gives us every blessing? He made the wonderful things to eat and to drink and the many other things for the service and pleasure of man. What a loving God we have! But God detests ingratitude!
Be thankful for everything
God does not require us to offer animal sacrifices as of old (Jer. 7:22- 23), but He is well pleased when we "offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Heb. 13:15). We are commanded to offer "the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing" (Ps. 107:22). One reason why many find prayer so difficult is that they have not learned to mix praise and thanksgiving with their prayers. "But in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6) — "giving thanks always for all things" (Eph. 5:20). What should we be thankful for? For food, clothing, shelter, for the blessings of living in a free land, for rapid transportation and communication. We should be thankful also for the beauty we see around us, for the gift of life itself and for continued health and strength with which we can exercise our mental and physical faculties so as to accomplish many things. We should be thankful for the Bible by which we can know God's plan, for God's love, mercy and protection from harm, for the sacrifice of Christ — making possible the forgiveness of our sins — and for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and for the assurance of eternal life in the endless Kingdom of God. . We should, in fact, be thankful for everything! "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thess. 5:18). Truly, these are only a few of the many blessings we have received from a loving, all-wise, ever merciful Creator who wants us to have an abundant life (John 10: 10). We should also be very thankful for the Plain Truth magazine and the World Tomorrow broadcast. If we don't appreciate receiving God's precious word through these media, then the time will come when we will no longer have these blessings. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] of hearing the words of the Lord" (Amos 8:11). Yes, God's Word solemnly declares that, in the dark days immediately ahead of us, the public preaching of God's Word will be cut off! The true Gospel will not have free course to go out unhindered as it does today. Appreciate this blessing while you have it — before it is too late. God will take away our blessings if we don't really appreciate them and give Him thanks — if we don't learn to serve Him joyfully for all the great abundance of blessings He has so lavishly bestowed upon us (Deut. 28 :47-48). Don't be guilty of committing the terrible sin of ingratitude (II Tim. 3:2). Learn to be thankful to God and to your fellowman for everything!