Turning Ungratefulness to Thanksgiving
You see, I’ve written a number of Thanksgiving messages over the years, but I’ve never stepped back and written one that examines what it means to be thankful. What I mean by this is, what if a person has never been taught how to be thankful? For example, as a believer we often take it for granted that people know how to do Christian things like pray, fast, read their Bible, etc. If it’s possible not to know such things, it is also possible not to know what it means to be thankful.
With my thoughts headed down this path, three questions arose that would help me further put this thought into perspective:
- Do you know people who are thankful?
- Do you know people who are ungrateful?
- What does it take to become a thankful person?
Do you know people who are thankful?
This question alone is interesting because what I’ve noticed is that a thankful person can be spotted easily. Notice that I didn’t say a thankful person is identified often. Try this. How many people do you know and would classify as thankful people? I would imagine at this moment you are going through your mind searching for names to put into this category and this is the reason for this message. Therefore I’ve concluded that a thankful person is an uncommon person. Being thankful isn’t a default response.
One of the reasons we have a day for thanks, Thanksgiving, is because for most days the average person isn’t very thankful. Thanksgiving is in place so that we can reflect back and think of reasons to be grateful. That leads me to this next question.
Do you know people who are ungrateful?
Do you know any ungrateful people? I’m sure answering this question is much easier than naming those who are thankful. If you’re like me, ungrateful people take a little more effort to like. An ungrateful person makes it easy for one to dislike them. However, before we dislike them, have you ever considered that an ungrateful person may have never been taught or shown how to be grateful? If thankful people are rare to come by, then an ungrateful person more than likely may have never been influenced by one who is grateful.
There’s a popular Bible verse that says “enter into His gates with thanksgiving…”  Have you ever considered why that verse exists? I’ll tell you. The normal person and normal behavior of a person is one who will try to enter His gates or presence without “thanksgiving.” In other words, before you enter His gate with ungratefulness, enter with thanksgiving. It takes an adjustment to move from the natural state of ungratefulness to thanksgiving. I’d like to give you some ideas on how to make the shift from ungratefulness to thankfulness.
What does it take to become a thankful person?
In order to make the shift from being ungrateful to becoming thankful, you’ll need to ask yourself and answer for yourself some different questions. You see, in order to be ungrateful, you asked and answered one set of questions, so to be grateful or thankful will require a new set of questions and answers.
- Selfish Questions Produce Ungratefulness
First I’d like to address what a person asks themselves in order to be ungrateful. Here are just a few questions one asks within their own minds that yield an ungrateful attitude.
What am I missing?
When we look at what we lack or what we don’t have, we tend to be ungrateful. When our attention is turned to what we don’t have then ungrateful forms within us.
What have I missed out on?
When we feel we missed out on an opportunity or time has passed and we are no longer able to take advantage of an opportunity, we become ungrateful.
How has what someone else did or didn’t do impacted me?
This is a big one. Oftentimes we blame others for the life we have when compared to the life we wish we had. In other words, we expect life to be a certain way, but our reality falls short of that and we blame a person or people for the outcomes we have. When this occurs, we sink into an attitude of ungratefulness.
We even take this stance with God, as if God has let us down. By the way, allow me to defend God for a moment. God didn’t let you down, you let yourself down. You can stop blaming God for you asking the wrong question which has resulted in your ungratefulness.
- Unselfish Questions Produce Thankfulness
Now that you get the picture of how we fall into ungrateful thinking, l would like to provide you with a few questions that can change ungratefulness into gratefulness. Ungratefulness and gratefulness are both attitudes and these attitudes can be controlled. While it’s natural to be ungrateful, all it takes is a small step in a different direction to be grateful, uncommon in your thinking. Take a look at how these questions will produce an attitude of thanksgiving when asked.
What’s something you can’t see yourself living without?
Ask yourself, what is something that you would hate to live without for even one day. This could be a person, an activity, or a thing. Regardless, this object changes the attention you’ve placed on you to it or him/her. Any time you move from selfish thinking to selfless thinking, you begin to enter the realm of thanksgiving. As that verse goes, enter into His gates thinking of at least one thing you can’t see yourself living without (that’s thanksgiving).
What do you have that you’d never like to be without?
While this second question is very closely related to the first, let’s look at it slightly differently. Would your sight fall into this category? Your ability to walk? Your ability to speak, read or write? What can you think of that you have that you’d never want to be without? When one focuses on this it changes an ungrateful heart to a thankful one. As that verse goes, enter into His gate thinking of the things that you’d never want to be without (that’s thanksgiving).
What all can you think of that you own or possess?
Sometimes it’s just good to make a list of everything you have. I mean write down all that you own. Put the things you don’t have out of your mind and focus on what you do. When you do this, your attitude will make the shift from ungrateful to grateful. God asked Moses, what do you have in your hand?  Moses was focused on the problems that lay before Him, but God showed him that the little he had in his hands was more than what he needed. Are you too focused on what you don’t have and not focused enough on what you do? As that verse goes, enter into His gate thinking of the things that you do have (that’s thanksgiving).
As we prepared this message, we had no idea that thanksgiving is an uncommon attitude. The normal attitude that a person possesses is an ungrateful one. In order to shift from the normal attitude of ungratefulness to an uncommon attitude of thanksgiving requires a change in the questions one answers of oneself. Are you ready to change questions? Your questions will yield the type of attitude you’d like to have: ungrateful or thankful. The choice really is yours.
Question: what questions have you asked yourself that have led you to an attitude of ungratefulness?
Reference #1: Psalms 100:4 NLT, Bible.com, accessed November 23, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/PSA.100.4.NLT
Reference #2: Exodus 4:2 NLT, Bible.com, accessed November 23, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/EXO.4.2.NLT
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.