How to Cultivate an Unthankful Heart

26 Mar

This may seem like a play on words but as I have been thinking alot about gratefulness recently, I came to this one thought. One doesn’t just wake up one day with the testimony of being an unthankful person. It starts somewhere in the heart and gradually manifests itself by overtaking the person’s thinking, emotions, desires, and outlook in life. It first affects our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and then eventually affects all those around us: family, friends, acquaintances.

I have heard messages preached on thankfulness and I have read articles and books on thankfulness; but I would like to share with you what I have found to be the root cause of becoming an unthankful person. How does one cultivate and nurture an unthankful heart? If we keep a key factor that I’m going to share with you in the forefront of our minds, perhaps it will help us to better obey the law of God especially when it comes down to “give thanks in ALL things” (1 Thess. 5).

There have been numerous times in my life that I have been unthankful – much to my shame and sorrow. The Lord has taught me numerous lessons on being thankful through situations and circumstances in life. Often times, these lessons have been experienced through trials and heartache and I must learn to be thankful during these ‘rough waters’. But yet, there are small things that I must be thankful for too. What about times when I feel that I’m not being treated the way that I should be or when I think someone should do something for me and they don’t? As a sinner, saved by grace, I know there will still be times ahead that I will fail in giving thanks for all things. However, God sees my state and continues in His abundant mercy to be kind, even to the unthankful. Luke 6:35, “And ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”

We are warned in 2 Timothy chapter 3 that perilous times will come. Why will this happen? Because “men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy” and the list goes on. All these sins bring out the worst in a person and along with them come devastating and perilous consequences, whether seen or unseen.

You see, the first sin listed here is “lovers of their own selves”. This, I believe, is the key factor and then it slowly progresses from one sin to another.

As a lover of your own self, you become self-conceited, self-righteous, self-seeing, self-thinking. All you can think about is YOU. One who loves themselves often thinks they deserve better than what they have or are being given. They become dissatisfied with the blessing God has bestowed, turn away from seeing the benefits of that blessing, and start to demand more of God and others.

Covetousness ends up taking root within the heart; and the thinking of their soul becomes one of jealousy – just as it was with the children of Israel. God continually blessed them, yet they grumbled and complained. Nothing was ever good enough for them. They would think back to the former days and with twisted thinking begin to miss the land of Egypt with his ‘leeks and onions’. They seemed to quickly forget all the hardship, tears, sweat, and pain that they were slaves to. How often, do we compare ourselves with others? Do we think their life is sweeter and better than ours? Perhaps we’re looking through rose-colored glasses and not truly seeing the whole picture.

Finally, the Lord gave them up to their own lusts and desires. Once this happens in the life of someone who is out for the good of themselves, pride then manifests itself in a mighty way. They gloat in their benefits and riches that they have just gained and lose sight of their frailty before the Almighty God. They forget that without him, they are nothing. They forget that just because they got what they wanted it doesn’t guarantee happiness but sometimes brings with it pain, trouble, and eventual heartache. As a wise man once said, “All is vanity”. Temporal things will soon burn up and decay and fly away never to return again.

There are often losses that one experiences to gain, especially if the Lord is using it to draw us back to Him and to get our thoughts focused on Him alone. Blaspheming in the heart against a Saviour (by way of thinking irreverently towards Him) and becoming disobedient in thinking and actions against parents can be a result from this condition. You are no longer looking to the Lord for His direction because you think you’re better off fending for yourself and you certainly aren’t going to look to your parents and heed their advice!

During the time that these emotions and frustrations are being developed, this is where the branch of unthankfulness begins to spring forth. Being a lover of your own self is the tree trunk from which all these “sins” branch from, in this whole development.

In an essence, it is very easy to be a lover of your own self. We are fleshly, ignorant, self-pleasing sinners made of dust. Yet, somehow we think we deserve respect from those we are acquainted with and we believe we deserve goodness from the hand of God and those around us. We tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. If they don’t meet our ‘demands’, we end up taking up an offence in our confusion and begin the rapid process of becoming a person with the reputation of unthankfulness.

It all started in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve became dissatisfied with all the glories that God had graciously bestowed upon them. Eve became intrigued in her heart as she listened to the serpent tell of all the supposed good that they were missing out on. After all, their eyes would be opened, and they would be as gods knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4). Instead of looking to their Creator for His wisdom, they looked only to please themselves and satisfy their longings, desires, and wishes. Where did it lead? It resulted in banishment from the garden, a wedge in their perfect communion with God, pain, sorrow, sweat, and most of all SIN.

Since we are commanded numerous times in the Bible to give thanks, how can we cultivate an attitude of appreciation – even in the most difficult of times, especially when it is so easy to look out for the good of ourselves? 2 Corinthians verses 8 and 11 hold a special promise for believers in Jesus Christ who are surrendered to His will, dependant upon Him for their every need, and are living a life of gratitude and giving. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.”

Ultimately, God gives us everything we need. As we are dependant upon Him, this will cause us to be enriched in and through Him which will result in an automatic overflow of thankfulness to God for all He has done. We won’t be looking to ourselves for more good because we’ll see that all we have is more than enough and is so underserved in the first place. We’ll start counting our blessings one by one and rejoicing in the fact that the kindness of the Lord has been shown to the least of His children: me and you!

So next time, when we become dissatisfied with what is or is not happening around us and we sense that feeling of unthankfulness rising up in our defense – let’s take a moment and ask: are we being lovers of our own selves; are we seeking to please ourselves? What is the basis of our feelings – does it stem from a violation of what we think we deserve? When we look to please ourselves we become vain in our imaginations and begin to abound in foolishness.

Even in the worst conditions and circumstances, even if we feel as if we are being treated wrongly, even if things don’t necessarily go “our way”, we can and must find something to rejoice and give thanks in. After all, everything has the potential for bringing us closer and closer to our Beloved! Often times, it may be extremely hard to give thanks but yet with Christ all things are possible and His grace is more than sufficient! Continually lean on Him as the Ultimate Provider and anticipate with humility what great things He has in store for you, His beloved child!

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9 Responses to “How to Cultivate an Unthankful Heart”

  1. Kirsten March 27, 2008 at 7:57 am #

    Amen, Sara! When we buy into the mindset that we have rights, that we are entitled to something or some form of treatment, or that we have unmet expectations that should and must be fulfilled, Satan has gained a mighty foothold. What idolatry we many times commit when we seek to set ourselves higher than the Savior!

  2. Margaret March 27, 2008 at 8:39 am #

    The song is very fitting to the post. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan and the Egyptians were overtaken, they were singing and praising God. Three days later they were complaining. . . How soon we forget.

  3. Stephanie March 27, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    “…everything has the potential for bringing us closer and closer to our Beloved!”

    I’m thankful for this. It really comes down to choice, doesn’t it? When I’m refusing to submit to God’s plan, to what He allows, there’s no joy. Turning our eyes to Jesus is a deliberate move, and the blessings are unimaginable!
    Thanks for a post that I’m sure is very relevant to many of us readers!

  4. Amy March 27, 2008 at 5:36 pm #

    Amen! You should write a book, Sara!

  5. Anne March 27, 2008 at 7:07 pm #

    Sara,
    I agree with Amy,you should write a book.This was a long post,but worth the read! Excellent Sara.
    Anne 🙂

  6. Tori March 27, 2008 at 9:22 pm #

    Wow! This is so true! What a profound thought! It is so easy to be unthankful….it is an area I struggle in. It seems I’m constantly wanting what I can’t have and am dissatisfied with my circumstances. But I have/will continue to ask the Lord to guide and help me in this area, because it is so important. This has been an encouraging post!

    I agree with the other girls, Sara, you should write a book!

  7. Sara Nicole March 27, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    You all are so kind! 🙂
    I’m humbled that this post was a blessing and encouragement to you – God be praised!

  8. Lauren March 28, 2008 at 8:08 am #

    That was a blessing! Thank you.

  9. Kalani March 28, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    This was so insightful Sara! I never thought about those verses in the way you did. They will definetly be part of my meditation this week.
    I learned quite a bit by reading this. I’ll be rereading this post!

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