Do You Show Yourself Thankful?
At a missionary home in West Africa, there once lived a watchdog named Teddy. When someone threw Teddy a piece of meat, he swallowed it immediately, without savoring, without chewing. Panting under the tropical sun, he waited for the next morsel to be tossed his way. When the meat was gone, he turned and went on his way.
Teddy never expressed the slightest gratitude for what he received. No one expected him to. He was, after all, just a dog.
AS TO gratitude, we often expect more of fellow humans than we do of animals. Usually we are disappointed. Many people snatch what they can from life and look for more. This too is not surprising. The Bible foretold that in the last days, men would be unthankful.—2 Timothy 3:1, 2.
However, servants of God have a different spirit. They take to heart the counsel of the apostle Paul, who admonished fellow believers: “Show yourselves thankful.”—Colossians 3:15.
Jehovah Shows Himself Thankful
Jehovah God sets the perfect example in showing appreciation. Consider how he views his faithful servants. Paul, under inspiration, wrote to Hebrew Christians: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.”—Hebrews 6:10.
Examples of Jehovah’s appreciation for his faithful servants abound. He blessed Abraham by multiplying his literal offspring, so that they became “like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore.” (Genesis 22:17) In appreciation for Job’s faithfulness under trial, Jehovah not only restored Job’s great wealth but also gave in “double amount.” (Job 42:10) Jehovah’s dealings with humans throughout the millenniums have proved the truthfulness of the statement: “As regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.”—2 Chronicles 16:9.
God’s appreciation for and inclination to reward those who seek to do his will are primary features of his personality. Recognition of this is central to Christian faith. Paul wrote: “Without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe . . . that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Hebrews 11:6.
If Jehovah instead manifested a harsh, critical spirit, all of us would be condemned. The psalmist made this point long ago: “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3) Jehovah is neither unappreciative nor critical. He cherishes those who serve him. He shows himself thankful.
Jesus—A Deeply Appreciative Person
Reflecting perfectly the qualities of his heavenly Father, Jesus Christ showed himself thankful for the things others did in faith. Consider what once took place at the temple in Jerusalem: “Now as [Jesus] looked up he saw the rich dropping their gifts into the treasury chests. Then he saw a certain needy widow drop two small coins of very little value there, and he said: ‘I tell you truthfully, This widow, although poor, dropped in more than they all did. For all these dropped in gifts out of their surplus, but this woman out of her want dropped in all the means of living she had.’”—Luke 21:1-4.
From a monetary point of view, the contribution was small, especially when compared with those of the rich people. Most of those present would hardly have noticed her. Yet, Jesus did see that widow. He discerned her circumstances. Jesus saw her and appreciated her.
Another incident involved a wealthy woman, Mary. As Jesus was reclining at a meal, she poured very expensive perfumed oil upon Jesus’ feet and upon his head. Some criticized her action, reasoning that the oil could have been sold and the money used to help the poor. How did Jesus respond? He said: “Let her alone. Why do you try to make trouble for her? She did a fine deed toward me. Truly I say to you, Wherever the good news is preached in all the world, what this woman did shall also be told as a remembrance of her.”—Mark 14:3-6, 9; John 12:3.
Jesus did not critically bemoan that the precious oil had not been put to another use. He appreciated the generous expression of Mary’s love and faith. The incident is recorded in the Bible as a remembrance of her fine deed. These accounts and others show that Jesus was a deeply appreciative man.
If you are a servant of God, you can be sure that both Jehovah God and Jesus Christ deeply appreciate your efforts to promote pure worship. Such knowledge draws us to them and motivates us to imitate them by proving ourselves thankful.
Satan’s Critical Spirit
Now let us consider an example of one who does not show himself thankful—Satan the Devil. Satan’s lack of appreciation contributed to his spearheading a disastrous rebellion against God.
Having nurtured a critical spirit of discontent in himself, Satan began to sow it in others. Consider events in the garden of Eden. Jehovah had created the first man and woman, had put them in a paradisaic garden, and had told them: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction.” There was but one restriction. God said: “As for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.”—Genesis 2:16, 17.
Soon, however, Satan challenged Jehovah’s credibility. In part, he wanted to make Eve so ungrateful to Jehovah that she would be moved to rebel against him, even as Satan himself had rebelled. “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” Satan asked. (Genesis 3:1) The clear implication was that God was holding back something precious from Eve, something that would open her eyes and make her like God himself. Instead of showing herself thankful for the many blessings Jehovah had showered upon her, Eve began to crave what was forbidden.—Genesis 3:5, 6.
The disastrous consequences are well-known. Though given the name Eve “because she had to become the mother of everyone living,” in another sense she became the mother of everyone dying. From Adam all humans have inherited the sin that produces death.—Genesis 3:20; Romans 5:12.
Imitate God and Christ
Consider the contrast between Satan and Jesus. Satan is described as “the accuser of our brothers . . . , who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Revelation 12:10) Jesus is “able also to save completely those who are approaching God through him, because he is always alive to plead for them.”—Hebrews 7:25.
Satan accuses servants of God. Jesus appreciates them and pleads on their behalf. As imitators of Christ, Christians should strive to look for the good in one another, appreciating and valuing one another. In doing so, they show themselves thankful to the one who sets the supreme example in appreciation, Jehovah God.—1 Corinthians 11:1.
[Picture on page 17]
Jesus expressed appreciation for Mary’s fine deed