How often do we find ourselves prompting our children to say, “thank you”? Whenever they’re offered a treat from a friend or someone helps them out we find ourselves asking, “Now, what do you say?” We want our children to be respectful and use good manners, which is why we teach them to say, “thank you”. It’s funny that we need to be taught to say something so simple.
On November 1st, 1990 Fox aired an episode of the The Simpson’s depicting the family sitting down for a meal. Before they ate, Homer asks Bart to give thanks. Here is what Bart prays, “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.” Undoubtedly, the producers of the show intended Bart’s prayer to be amusing. However, I don’t think they knew they were touching on the dark side of prosperity.
After the Exodus from Egypt, God instructed the nation of Israel that He would be leading them to the land already prepared for their habitation. It would be a land flowing with milk and honey; a land filled with vineyards and olive groves that others had planted. But God warned them that with prosperity would come the danger of forgetting God. They would be tempted to look around at their wealth and take credit for what God had given them. It happened.
The same mentality exists today. We relish unprecedented wealth and yet we fail to recognize that its source is God. Why? The short answer is sin. We take our wealth for granted. We feel we deserve it. We imagine that we created it. We are guilty of the very thing God warned the Israelites of. We have developed an attitude of ingratitude.
Although prosperity is a blessing from God, it can have a chilling effect on our love for Him and on our gratitude for His blessings. What is the remedy? Should we give everything we own away and take a vow of poverty? That might work temporarily but it does nothing at the heart level. Here are four observances I have been weaving into the fabric of my life as I have been converging on the fourth Thursday of November: 1) Thankful people focus on what they have – not what they don’t have. 2) Thankful people admit they have more than they deserve. 3) Thankful people know that thankfulness needs to be developed. And, 4) Thankful people gauge blessings by things other than money.
It’s vitally important to be thankful – not just one day a year, but every day because it needs to be the pattern of our lives. To borrow a seemingly trite question, what are you thankful for?