An Attitude Of Gratitude
Many years ago, while working at Remington Arms, I remember one of the bosses I had would always come around and hand out paychecks on Thursday (as I remember it) and would always say thank you to the employees. My response was always the same, “You’re welcome.” Whether working nights or days, my routine was always the same, give the check to Linda and she would take care of the rest. What I remember most about those days is the fact that I always appreciated having a job, making a wage, and providing for my family. In the almost twelve years I worked for Remington, I was never laid off and had good benefits, a decent wage, and a pretty good work environment. During that time, I can only remember one time I was late for work and that was because of car problems. Over the years I have thanked God many times for the opportunity to provide for my family, working in factory and the lessons I learned growing up in Christ within that complex.
But not all people shared my sentiments. There was one gentleman (loosely used term), when at the reception of paycheck, would always complain that it wasn’t enough. He would complain about the taxes taken out, how low our wages were, that nothing good came out of working for “Ma Remington.” After many months of listening to his rambling complaints, I spoke up and said, “If you don’t like your paycheck, feel free to sign it over to me, I will be glad to put it to better use!” I won’t share with you what he said to me next, it wasn’t very flattering. Funny thing, he quite complaining to me after that.
When we think of the word gratitude certain thoughts and feelings should come to us. It is that quality of being extremely thankful and the readiness to show appreciation for kindness shown to us. I am sure that you are thankful for those who cook for you. I am. I know my way around a can of soup and a loaf of bread. Peanut butter is my friend, when Linda isn’t around to cook for me. I will not starve, but my meals would be canned, boxed, and bagged. The word “reheat” comes to mind. So, when Linda is cooking, all is well with my body and soul and I am a very grateful husband and never take my meals for granted.
How does that translate into our spiritual life? Are we grateful for what God is doing in our life, for our life, for our benefit? Do we appreciate how much He loves us, how much He did for us, and is doing for us at this very moment? When I read the first chapter of Malachi, I get the distinct impression that Israel’s thinking was wrong in a myriad of ways.
IGNORING GOD’S LOVE
The truth is, Israel ignored the fact that God loves them. God says, “I have loved you…” The New Living Translations says, “I have always loved you,” says the LORD. God has with His people a lasting, loving, covenant relationship. Through Malachi, God reveals that all Israel had to do was look at their history. Malachi tells them to examine the events of their own history as God showed his love toward Jacob while at the same time rejecting his brother Esau. One study Bible put it this way, “In portraying a relationship between the Lord and Israel, love has covenant implications. The term may be equated with God’s choice, or election, of Israel as His people. Malachi’s message indicates that the other dimensions of God’s unconditional covenant love for Israel (such as His patient mercy; see 3:6, 17) are also still operative (see also Romans 9:13). The fact is, Israel could not or was not willing to see how much God really loved them. Like the divine covenant, God’s love would not and can not be broken. God’s love for Israel would stand for all eternity and yet Israel in a fit of ingratitude, asks the question, “In what way have You loved us?”
Such insolence cannot and should not be ignored. Without an attitude of gratitude toward God’s enduring, consistent, loving relationship, His people will become narrow minded, sour, and bitter toward Him, His people, as well as self. And as this happens, it will affect, like it did with Israel, other areas of life. How? Here are three ways INGRATITUDE affected Israel in their relationship with God.
INGRATITIUDE DISHONORED GOD
God asks Israel important questions. “If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?” With a lack of gratitude Israel became disrespectful to the Lord, they dishonored Him by ignoring all the ways He had blessed them over the years.
INGRATITUDE DEFILED GOD BY GIVING HIM SCRAPS
Because of Israel’s attitude toward their loving Father, they gave Him the leftovers of their life. Malachi writes, “You offer defiled food on My altar… The table of the LORD is contemptible… you offer the blind as a sacrifice… you offer the lame and sick, is this not evil?” (verses 7-8) With a lack of gratitude Israel basically thought, “Why should I give God my very best sacrifices, when He hasn’t done anything for me? I will give Him my leftovers and He will just have to like it.” When bitterness, resentment, and ingratitude, pours out of a hateful heart it doesn’t take long for it to show up in our attitude toward giving to God what is His due.
INGRATITUDE DISPOSED THE DISIRE TO PLEASE GOD AS A PRIMARY CONCERN
In verses 9 and 10, Malachi says, “But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us… Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on My alter in vain? I have no pleasure in you… says the LORD of hosts…” The desire to please God should be a primary concern in the lives of God’s people. But when God’s people are not grateful for what God has provided through His loving kindness toward them, seeking His pleasure will never be at the top of their list of goals.
FOR THE BELIEVER, ATTITUDES ALWAYS NEED ADJUSTING
It has been my experience as a person in Christ and as a pastor for over 30 years that attitudes always need adjusting. All of us have experienced waking up in a bad mood, or having a bad day at work, or receiving some unwelcomed bad news. But when we view life void of a grateful heart because of what we are experiencing rather than through the lens of a loving, giving, caring God, we can only further hurt of our relationship with Him and we desperately need an attitude adjustment. If you are thinking or outright saying the words, “What has God ever done for me?” I would suggest that you stop what you are doing—turn around and start counting not what you don’t have but what you do have. Perhaps in the process an attitude of gratitude might start creeping back into your life.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—wishing you Joy in Jesus!