Why Be Grateful?
SPINAL surgery forced Harley to change his career from a machinist to an office clerk. When asked how he felt about this change, Harley said: “I do miss working with machinery. But, in all honesty, I am happier with my present work than with my previous job.”
Giving a reason for his contentment, Harley relates: “It is the attitude of the people I work with. Unlike those at my previous place of employment, my current supervisor and coworkers are appreciative of what I do, and they don’t hold back from giving commendation. This has made all the difference in the world.” Feeling useful and needed, Harley is now a happy worker.
Words of commendation or gratitude, when deserved, are truly heartwarming. The effect of ingratitude, on the other hand, can be as chilling as Shakespeare observed: “Blow, blow, thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.” Sadly, many have been the recipients of such unkindness.
Guard Against Ingratitude
In today’s world sincere expressions of gratitude are disappearing. A writer, for instance, raised a question: “If the bride found time to address 200 wedding invitations, why can’t she find time to write thank-you notes for 163 presents?” Often even the simple word “thanks” goes unsaid. Gratitude is increasingly being replaced by a me-first attitude. This situation is one of the identifying marks of the last days. The apostle Paul warned: “You must realise that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centred . . . They will be utterly lacking in gratitude.”—2 Timothy 3:1, 2, Phillips.
In other cases, gratitude is replaced by flattery. Expressions of gratitude are made from the heart without thought of personal gain. However, flattery, usually insincere and exaggerated, may stem from the ulterior motive of getting ahead or gaining certain personal advantages. (Jude 16) Besides beguiling the recipient, such smooth talk tends to be the fruitage of pride and haughtiness. Who, then, would want to be victimized by insincere flattery? But genuine gratitude is truly refreshing.
The person expressing gratitude benefits from doing so. The warmth he experiences because of being grateful at heart contributes to his happiness and peace. (Compare Proverbs 15:13, 15.) And being a positive quality, gratitude protects him from such negative feelings as anger, jealousy, and resentment.
“Show Yourselves Thankful”
The Bible urges us to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, or thankfulness. Paul wrote: “In connection with everything give thanks. For this is the will of God in union with Christ Jesus respecting you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) And Paul counseled the Colossians: “Let the peace of the Christ control in your hearts . . . And show yourselves thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) Numerous psalms contain expressions of thanks, indicating that heartfelt gratitude is a godly virtue. (Psalm 27:4; 75:1) Clearly, Jehovah God is pleased when we manifest thankfulness in everyday matters of life.
But what factors in this unthankful world make it difficult for us to cultivate the spirit of gratitude? How may we display a thankful attitude in daily life? These questions will be discussed in the next article.