The sin of thanklessness
Posted on: 25th March 2020
Christine Bird / / Pastoral Care & Short-term Training Coordinator
This issue we look at the topic of ‘mission and sacrifice’. This month’s contributors have been asked to examine what sacrifice in mission looked like in their lives.
Many Christians experience sacrifice as a normal part of life; and, of course, sacrifice is a normal part of Christian mission. We might sacrifice a comfortable lifestyle, close involvement with family, support from friends and being able to operate easily in our own language and culture.
Challenges I experienced in Nepal in the 90’s included typhoid, undiagnosed hyperthyroidism, regular bouts of giardia (involving an overfamiliarity with the toilet). A civil war, involving curfews and bombs close by, followed by depression and anxiety during re-entry that left me feeling like God had abandoned me.
These challenges were the way I learned about thankfulness. During re-entry, a counsellor challenged me, asking, “Since you are a Christian, can’t you thank God every day?”
Thankful verses began to stand out:
…And be thankful. … singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:15b-17)
I noticed for the first time Paul’s teaching that thanklessness is a sin:
For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to him. (Romans 1:21)
I have found a practice of thankfulness important for avoiding cynicism, bitterness to people and resentment towards God. The Roman philosopher Seneca (4BC-AD65), writes:
There will always be killers, tyrants, thieves, adulterers, rapists, violators of religion, and traitors. But lower than all of these is the ungrateful man. … Treat it as the greatest crime.
It is vital that we pour out our struggles to God. However, He also asks us to thank Him for the good things He gives us.
I am thankful to the Lord that through my struggles, I also learnt the importance of both companionship on difficult journeys and validation of our experiences.