Surviving a World ‘Without Gratitude’
“But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, without gratitude.”—2 Tim. 3:1, 2.
1. Who foretold what lack of appreciation in our day?
JEHOVAH God foresaw the deadly plague of ingratitude sweeping the earth in these critical last days before Armageddon. He inspired the apostle Paul to warn of it 1900 years ago, that men of appreciation might survive the end of a world without gratitude. “But know this,” wrote Paul, “that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, without gratitude, with no loving-kindness, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with self-esteem, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) Ingratitude is the very opposite of appreciation. The prophecy shows men as we find them today, without appreciation for God, for pure worship, for true love and obedience to parents and, contrarily, overemphasizing the value of self, pleasures and money. How accurately the Bible’s advance writing of history predicted the present facts! Honest men must now turn away from a world without gratitude in order to survive its approaching end.
2. (a) What is appreciation? (b) To express it requires what?
2 To turn away from a world of ingrates one must cultivate appreciation for all that is good, upright and pleasing to God. True appreciation is much more than simple gratefulness. The word “appreciate” is related to the word “appraise,” which means to set a value on something. An early meaning was “to judge with respect to value, quality, or quantity; to appraise; value.” (Webster’s New International Dictionary, 2nd Ed.) To appreciate is to esteem to the full the worth of something; to feel a warmth of satisfaction and approval in regard to it. Appreciation involves being cognizant of a thing through perception of the senses. Delicacy of perception is often involved in appreciation. The expression “music appreciation” or “appreciation for fine arts” now takes on fuller meaning. We think too that when a bank sends an “appraiser” to set a just value on real estate the appraiser is called upon to decide how much appreciation financially should be shown for the property. When real estate rises in value it is said to “appreciate”; or, when value drops, to “depreciate.” From this it is apparent that if we are to show appreciation for the highest things involving God and true worship we must become skilled in setting values. We must have knowledge, understanding, experience, but, most of all, sound Biblical guidance as to what is really worthwhile. The world without gratitude is dying for lack of true appreciation; its sense perceptions for all that is godly and good are all but dead, even as it soon will be.
3. Jesus’ Parable of the sheep and goats makes what questions timely?
3 Christ Jesus foretold our times in the 25th chapter of Matthew, where he outlined two classes of people living at the world’s end. On his right hand stood the appreciative “sheep,” who love God and Christ the reigning King and who appreciate the remnant of the King’s brothers who everywhere preach the good news of God’s kingdom. On the King’s left stand the doomed, unappreciative “goats,” who claim to love God and Christ, but utterly lack any warmth of approval and satisfaction in the Kingdom witness work being done by Jesus’ earthly brothers. The goats fail to perceive that the King is present in Kingdom power and that all the nations come before his throne for judgment. Where do you stand in this struggle between appreciation and ingratitude? What value do you set on God’s Word? On the Kingdom message being preached? On your time? On your life? It will possibly save your life if you will examine the Bible history of this struggle and make up your mind to stand among the minority who have shown appreciation that assured their salvation.
4. How was appreciation a life-and-death issue in Jesus’ day?
4 In Jesus’ day a highly privileged generation had the advantage of seeing God’s own Son perform great miracles in proof of his claim to be the long-awaited Messiah. Dulled sense perception warped their appraisal of his credentials, even though he fulfilled all the prophecies that assured his genuineness. Failing to appreciate their privileges, that doomed generation lightly esteemed his kingdom proclamation and neglected to appraise it as worthy of wholehearted allegiance and support. Jesus wept at their lack of discernment. In less time than it took their forefathers to make the wilderness trek of forty years, that ungrateful generation reaped what they had sown by the seeds of ingratitude. The Roman armies stormed through Jerusalem and Judea A.D. 70, bathing the land in blood, even as Jesus predicted. Ingratitude toward the presence of the King of God’s kingdom and their privileges of serving him led to violent death. True to the warning of the Baptizer John, whose appraisal of Christ’s worth made John feel unworthy to untie his sandal, that generation was baptized with fiery destruction. But appreciative men and women who correctly appraised Christ’s role received the outpouring of God’s holy spirit with power and life. (Matt. 3:7-12) Appreciation meant surviving the end of that system of things.
5. What similar situation existed in Noah’s day?
5 The disease of ingratitude is, of course, older than Jesus’ day. At Hebrews 12:16 Paul warned the early Christians to be on guard that there might be no one among them “not appreciating sacred things, like Esau, who in exchange for one meal gave away his rights as firstborn.” But even before the days of ungrateful Esau and appreciative Jacob there was a whole world stalked by the plague of ingratitude. It was the world of Noah’s day. Noah and his family of Jehovah’s witnesses appreciated the need to obey God’s commands. They preached and they built the ark of safety before the very eyes of another unappreciative generation. The cares of life and love for fleshly pleasures closed the minds of the preflood world to the seriousness of their times. Surging floodwaters that were to submerge the highest mountain peak probably caused multitudes suddenly to reappraise their value of Noah’s warning, but once their feet were wet it was too late. The ingrates never lived to correct their mistake. Their misappraisal died with them. Archaeologists digging among the preflood ruins find evidence that God had wiped out a religious world. Jehovah’s witnesses appreciate why: It was the wrong religion. Obviously false religion can cripple appreciation and destroy sensitive perception for what is right worship in the eyes of God.—Genesis, chapters 6-8; Matt. 15:3.
6. Who was the first ingrate? Where has his ingratitude led?
6 Yet ingratitude’s history is older than the Flood. It dates even from the garden of Eden, where mankind’s beginning was plunged into sin and death through Adam and Eve’s lack of appreciation for Jehovah God’s pure worship and the need for loyalty. The first ingrate was none other than Satan the Devil, who influenced the first pair to misappraise the value of God’s Word and commands. Jesus revealed the fatal flaw in Satan’s appreciation. It was failure to value the truth highly. “That one was a manslayer when he began,” said Jesus, “and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Jehovah had not created Satan so, for, if he had, then Jehovah would in fact be the Father of the lie and the liar, but it is impossible for God to lie. The fault lay with Satan’s lack of appreciation for truth and righteousness. Among God’s spirit sons he was highly favored. He could have followed the wise course of God’s only-begotten Son, the Word, but the self-made ingrate felt no warmth of satisfaction and approval in Jehovah’s loving counsel. Nor did Satan highly esteem the association of loyal angelic spirit sons of God. The path of ingratitude led to treason in heaven and earth, and even now we are just approaching the climax of the long controversy over Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, a controversy soon to be settled to the honor of Jehovah and the blessing of all appreciative ones. Meanwhile, lack of appreciation was to lead Satan to an all-time record for ingratitude, climaxed by his murder of Jesus at Calvary. With appreciation for Jesus’ integrity, Jehovah raised him up and exalted him to his right hand, where now he has finally come into his glorious Kingdom throne in this day of judgment. It is sobering to look at Satan’s death warrant and see it based on his lack of appreciation. At Armageddon Jesus will act with appreciation for Jehovah’s sovereignty and speedily destroy the rebellious prince of ingrates.
7. By copying what examples may we hope to survive the world’s end?
7 The Bible history is not all a record of ingratitude. It also glows with examples of appreciative lovers of righteousness. Though a world of more than two billion souls now is about to die from lack of appreciation, you can survive its end by copying the lives of the many experts in the art of appreciating divine favors. Abel was one. He correctly valued the favor of Jehovah God and realized that his worship of the true God must conform to divine standards, not man-made rituals such as Cain’s offerings of the fruit of the ground. (Gen. 4:2-7) Abel will be remembered in the resurrection because he appreciated the value of serving God in the right way. Another expert appraiser was Noah, already mentioned for his appreciation of God’s instructions. Abraham and Sarah correctly evaluated the privilege of leaving their home in Ur to serve Jehovah in foreign lands, in typical missionary fashion. Abraham always upheld Jehovah’s way of life and won God’s favor as the “father of the faithful.” At Jericho, the woman Rahab wisely appreciated her new-found relationship to Jehovah’s theocratic organization as of more value than any community ties to the doomed city. Expertly she appreciated the need to take her stand with Jehovah’s victorious hosts and actively demonstrate her allegiance. Her appreciation and sensitive sense perception enabled her and her household to survive Jericho’s fall.—Josh. 6:22-25.
8. (a) Name other men and women rich in appreciation. (b) How did Moses appraise his privileges?
8 The Bible book of Judges is a monumental record of a band of men and women who zealously appreciated Jehovah’s call to action in defense of his chosen people, who had often got into dire straits through lack of appreciation for their great invisible King. Jehovah’s witnesses, such as Samson, Gideon, Jehu, Barak, Deborah and others, considered it a great privilege to fight for Jehovah’s name, his true worship and his people. So confident they were of the correctness of their appraisal of this privilege that they risked their lives to exercise it. Jehovah’s prophets were no less appreciative of their privileges toward God. Kings and empires often raged against such men as Moses, Samuel, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah and many others. To these appreciative men the privilege of being spokesmen for Jehovah was a treasure without equal. They set the highest value on the call to declare Jehovah’s prophecies, truths and judgments, whether delivered to friend or to foe. These God-fearing prophets were experts in appraising privileges. A typical example is that of Moses, of whom Paul writes at Hebrews 11:24-26: “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed [that is, appraised, appreciated] the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” In Moses’ mind and heart a decision was reached, an appraisal made, that set the highest value on Jehovah’s promised blessings, which hope easily offset anything the Egyptian world might offer by way of materialistic attraction. During his lifetime his appraisal brought many blessings and privileges as mediator between Jehovah and Israel, prefiguring the role of Christ Jesus himself. What is more, at Hebrews, chapter 11, Moses is included among the list of faithful, appreciative witnesses of Jehovah who will come back in the post-Armageddon resurrection. Had Moses appraised his privileges unwisely he might have led a life of temporary enjoyment and then died without hope.
9. Who is the greatest appreciator of Jehovah’s goodness? Contrast his outcome with Satan’s.
9 Of all the faithful men and women who won God’s favor and upheld his sovereignty, Christ Jesus stands out as the greatest appreciator of Jehovah’s gifts and privileges. He is the perfect example of appreciation. His life of gratitude to Jehovah for eternal life and all its blessings is the very antithesis of Satan’s ungrateful, ill-fated career. From his creation God’s Son has highly appreciated the truth that all he is and has is a gift from his Father Jehovah. Jesus never meditated an ungrateful usurpation of God’s place. He appreciated the privilege of being among God’s universal family and has always worked with appreciation toward the vindication of Jehovah’s name, being “obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.” (Phil. 2:5-8) But consider the contrasting status of these two angelic sons of God who once enjoyed fellowship together in Jehovah’s heavenly family. Satan the haughty ingrate has been divorced from Jehovah’s organization and now hurled to the vicinity of the earth, where he angrily wars against the remnant of Kingdom heirs, and knows his remaining time is short. Christ Jesus, the humble appreciator, has been exalted to a position superior to that with which he began. The gift of immortality has been granted him. He looks past the coming war of Armageddon to an eternity of appreciative service to his God and Father. Who do you think made the wise appraisal of Jehovah’s goodness? What steps are you taking to copy Jesus’ example?
10. How did Jesus preach and practice appreciation?
10 That we should copy his example we are assured by Paul when he writes: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the leader and perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising [note his appraisal] shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Indeed, consider closely the one who has endured such contrary talk by sinners against their own interests, that you may not get tired and give out in your souls.” (Heb. 12:1-3) Looking intently at Jesus’ fine appreciation for what is worthwhile, we correctly learn to evaluate things. We can also despise reproach from relatives, friends or neighbors who oppose our Christian course. The joy of serving Jehovah forever will be the thing of value in your life. You will copy Jesus’ example and gladly sell your interest in anything that would prevent your gaining the Kingdom. Jesus provided us with a valuable lesson in how to appreciate the treasure of Kingdom service when he gave the following illustrations: “The kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid, and for the joy he has he goes and sells what things he has and buys that field. Again the kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” (Matt. 13:44-46) Jesus did that. He had appreciation, the ability to recognize the true value of serving Jehovah and selling all other interests, even giving up his earthly life to gain the pearl of high value. Satan tested Jesus’ appreciation by offers of political and material gain, but nothing in Satan’s system of things could attract Jesus and influence him to reappraise the high value he set on the privilege of vindicating Jehovah’s name. His treasure of Kingdom service did not depreciate with time; it grew in appreciation and undoubtedly still does. That is the example Paul invites us to copy.
11. Where did the apostles stand in the matter of appreciation?
11 Under perfect instruction from Jesus all but one of the apostles became like their Teacher. (Luke 6:40) The one exception misappraised the value of material gain and later confessed that his foolish evaluation was a mistake by throwing the betrayal money into the temple and retiring to commit suicide. (Matt. 27:3; Zech. 11:12, 13, AV) The other eleven and Paul, the one taking Judas’ vacated office, all proved to be men of appreciation in every sense of the word. They suffered much for the truth and for the sake of the good news, but did tribulation stifle their gratitude to Jehovah? When the Jewish supreme court flogged the apostles and released them under the charge to give up their preaching, did they reappraise their privilege downward? The record at Acts 5:41, 42 gives answer: “These, therefore, went their way from before the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of his name. And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” No mistake about it, the apostles had real appreciation. They did not overvalue self, nor money nor pleasures. They had gratitude for God, for Christ, for the value of real godly devotion, and they proved true to its power. To these examples we may always turn with profit, particularly when a modern world without gratitude urges us to stop the final witness being given to God’s kingdom.
12. What grand privilege was foretold for our day, and how is it being extended?
12 Exiled to the isle of Patmos for the sake of the good news, the apostle John was inspired to foretell that men and women in this present judgment day would be offered the privilege of taking up the Kingdom witness work that Jesus said would be “preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Wrote John of his inspired vision: “And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the one that made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.’” (Rev. 14:6, 7) When Jehovah’s witnesses knock on your door under motivation by Jehovah God’s active force, that privilege of actively giving God glory as one of his kingdom witnesses is being extended to you. Men and women of appreciation in all nations are eagerly responding hourly, finding a warmth of satisfaction and approval in sharing in the final witness.
13. (a) Our review of those poor and rich in appreciation makes what clear? (b) What questions accordingly concern us now?
13 By reviewing the Bible history of those rich in appreciation, is it not apparent that appreciation is more than ordinary thankfulness or simple gratitude, though even this the present world woefully lacks? Yes, certainly it is a life-and-death matter that involves your heart, your sense perception, your understanding, your soul and strength. You have seen what others have done; some wisely, some foolishly. Now what will be your course of action toward Jehovah’s kingdom? Will it be prompted by appreciation or ingratitude? Will the house you are building stand up against the whirlwind of Armageddon? How can you cultivate more of the appreciation that will enable you to survive the end of this present world without gratitude? The following article is offered for your thoughtful consideration. Read it with appreciation.