But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.
One of my all-time favorite movies in Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as Phil Connors, a self-centered weatherman who ends up trapped in a time warp. He is stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for Groundhog Day, the same Groundhog Day over and over and over again. After satisfying his hedonistic pleasures, Phil begins to grow into a person committed to helping others. For example, from experience, he knows that at precisely 11:05 a.m., a boy will fall out of a tree onto the sidewalk. So Phil makes sure to be there at exactly the right moment to catch the boy, saving him from serious injury. But, every single time, the boy runs away without even acknowledging Phil. In one scene, Phil laments, “That’s right. Never thank you, not once. You never say thank you.”
Things like this happen all the time, not just in the movies. This should not surprise us. In fact, the Apostle Paul informs us that ingratitude is to be expected in “the last days,” that is, in the days between the ascension of Christ and his return. People will act in all sorts of terrible ways and will be, among other deplorable things, “ungrateful” (2 Tim. 3:2).
What is the cost of ingratitude? To be sure, one cost accrues to the person who deserves thanks. In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors is deprived of the recognition and gladness he should receive from the boy he saved. When we fail to thank God, God loses out on the recognition that he rightly deserves. So, ingratitude wrongs the one who should have received thanks.
But there is another penalty that is paid when we are ungrateful. We lose the opportunity to delight in the blessings of our lives. We deny ourselves the joy that comes to us when we give others the joy that comes from our thanks. Ingratitude deprives the one who should offer thanks of a deeper, richer, fuller experience of life’s goodness.
So, ingratitude hurts the one who should receive thanks and the one who should give it. Not surprisingly, therefore, it also fails to nourish the relationship between the two parties. Whereas, a word of thanks can build intimacy and trust; thanks neglected creates distance and guardedness.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you experienced some of the costs of ingratitude? Are there times you forget to thank the Lord? Are there people in your life whom you need to thank, for their sake, for your sake, and for the sake of your relationship? When and how will you thank these people?
PRAYER: Gracious God, I don’t want to be one of those people described in 2 Timothy 3. I don’t want to be ungrateful. Yet, I know there are times when I fail to thank you for your blessings. There are also times I forget to thank others. I can get so busy, so focused, that I just don’t stop to say a simple “Thank you.”
Forgive me, Lord, for my ingratitude. Tenderize my heart, so that I might feel grateful when I am the recipient of goodness. Remind me, Lord, to thank you and to thank others…starting right now. Amen.
P.S. from Mark – Beginning with this coming Sunday, December 2, we will enter the season of Advent. This time of year helps us prepare for a richer experience of Christmas as we get in touch with just how much we need a Savior. I have been privileged to work with my colleagues in Laity Lodge Youth Camp and Laity Lodge Family Camp on the production of an Advent Family Devotional Guide. This guide will help you, your family, and your friends deepen your experience of God during Advent. We are giving away a PDF copy of this guide. Click here to download the 2012 Advent Devotional.