Ingratitude—Sin against God and man?
(Written and narrated by the editor. Click here to LISTEN.)
Is ingratitude of even the little things of life something that could lead to sin and major problems? How many of us may carry this attitude around within us and not realize it?
I remember many years ago, in the COG and under the leadership of HWA, how this was brought out in sermons on occasion, just to keep us reminded that we are to be not only thankful for blessings of God and things done for us by others, but to develop an attitude of gratitude, thanksgiving or thankfulness. We should be taught in the COG to have an “attitude of gratitude” (for things too numerous to mention) as we go through life, even in the COG today. Even our trials are for our good. (Rom.8:28 & James1:2-3) We do not seem to be reminded of this that much anymore, so how is “ingratitude” a sin? There are multiple answers to that question, for those who may not realize the depth of it. Scripture reveals ingratitude can lead to various sins—or transgressions of the Law of God (1John 3:4) and is actually the mind or nature of the devil. Can this really be that serious, some may wonder? You might also be surprised to learn that it truly is one of the greater but most common sins in the world today—far more common than you may realize.
God, as creator, made possible for every living thing to have that life it now enjoys, or has enjoyed. Even the angels and cherubs who were created spirit should be grateful to God for that life. But Lucifer, a created spirit being, who became Satan (Isa.14 & Eze.28) tried to take from God even more than was initially given. Certainly according to our human terms, it was ingratitude (perhaps coupled with jealousy or resentment) that began to brew in the mind of a once perfectly created being that eventually led to sin and hostility. He lost all gratitude and thankfulness to God for creating him and giving him his attributes & potential as a spirit being. I want to reveal for you how this led to rebellion; to permanently darken and pervert the thinking in that once sinless mind. God did not create a devil. It has done the same in the majority of mankind and will do the same in those who have been called for conversion, if not seen and repented of quickly. For this, a person needs the help of God through the Holy Spirit and to have the gratitude for the calling and knowledge of what God has put mankind here for. Notice Eze.28:12-15 in the American Standard Version; 12 Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. (This could not apply to a human king, but the context reveals it applies to Lucifer, when this is connected with Isa.14:12-15) 13 Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared. 14 Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, (so that) thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee.” ASV Satan is the master of lies, hatred, animosity and ingratitude.
Now surely some of you readers have heard the expression, perhaps even made it yourself, as parents or grandparents; saying “he (or She) is an ingrate” or that some teens are “just a bunch of ingrates”—and sometimes you will hear that said of those who have grown up in wealthy homes, where basically everything has been handed to them by hard working parents. Then there are many in our USA today who have lived the most of their lives with a “hand out” mentality, letting the welfare system or other government programs; tax dollars of the working citizens—pay for their needs and wants. These people tend to have very little gratitude for what they have been given, which others may have sacrificed a great deal for. However, some older adults can also be or become ingrates, so what exactly is an ingrate? The dictionary definition is “an ungrateful person”. So is ingratitude just those being ungrateful on occasion? Not really, as the definition of “ingratitude” in the same dictionary (Oxford’s American dictionary) is “lack of DUE gratitude” not just lack of gratitude on occasion or in general, as some other dictionaries have. We need to remember this aspect, as we proceed, because it goes more to what the Bible reveals on this subject. This is a mind that is very unthankful and the fruits of it show.
As I was researching for this original article, (nearly 3 years ago now) I came across a very recent commentary at the time, (From a well-known and more zealous COG organization) on gratitude that I found very interesting. It had this statement in it; “Gratitude can be defined as an emotion, an attitude, a moral virtue, a habit, a personality trait or a coping response. Boiled down, gratitude is the willful recognition of the unearned increase in one’s value. It is the measure of gain coupled with the recognition that someone else is responsible for that gain.” (Emphasis and bolding mine.) This fits well with the dictionary definition seen above; ingratitude is the “lack of due gratitude”—not even having the mindset to recognize or acknowledge that God, the COG or perhaps someone else in the COG has been instrumental or even made possible what you now have or is at least working for good to come in your life.
So let us think about this as we look into some Scriptures that deal with ingratitude from the Biblical perspective and how God may view it. Many times we find in Scripture that faithful men were thankful to God, which goes to gratitude, the opposite of ingratitude. Christ Himself showed others many times that he was thankful to the Father, as did the apostles express gratitude by being thankful to God the Father and Jesus Christ. Ingratitude is the opposite of thankfulness and is of a different mindset and spirit.
In the KJV, 2Tim.3:2, we find the word “unthankful”, but the NIV, NAS and the RSV all translate the word as ungrateful. Romans 1:21 says; ---“although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (NKJ) The words “nor were thankful” here is the opposite of being thankful and if you noticed this is found in the mind (thoughts) and the heart. The word thankful is defined as being “grateful” or to “express gratitude” so it stands to reason if it says “nor were thankful” it means they were unthankful, the mindset was that of ingratitude. Now back to 2Tim.3:2 where the word unthankful means “ungrateful or thankless” (Vines expository dictionary) and there are many examples of people in the Bible that were unthankful or inappreciative to God for what He had done for them (or was doing) and they showed this by the choices and decisions they made. Mankind in general, have always been unthankful for what God has done and is doing for them, all down thru time we see this, starting in the Garden of Eden and on to us today. The carnal mind just does not naturally have a thankful mindset and is not even subject to the law of God, (Rom.8:7) because they have been deceived by Satan the devil. (Rev.12:9)
Adam and Eve lost the wonderful blessing of being able to continue to live in the Garden of Eden, where God had supplied their every need. They were freely given the opportunity to eat from the tree of life; (Gen 2:16-17-NKJ) “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;”—(which included the tree of life) 17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." So they were told this for their own good, but they allowed the serpent, the source of all ingratitude/un-thankfulness and sinful nature, to influence them into disobedience and they were driven out of the garden. Jumping ahead, Israel was so filled with ingratitude and lack of obedience that they lost their opportunity to go into the Promised Land; instead the majority of them 20 years and up died in the wilderness.
When people fail to express the kind of thankfulness or gratitude to God that is DUE Him, for what He does for them or even brings into their lives by or through someone else or whatever the means; that is ingratitude—both to God and the one God uses to give them a blessing or share their own blessings with them. Christ is a wonderful blessing to all of mankind but very few are really thankful to God for Him and His message of truth, when they realize they have to make some sacrifices. One of the greatest blessings anyone can have today is the knowledge and ability (Both come from God) to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt.6:33) because God has promised those that do, everything else needed in life would be supplied. The attitude of “get what I can while I can” is very much alive in the hearts and minds of many who claim to be members of the COG.
How many in these COG groups today have this attitude of ingratitude? Observe the “fruit of their doings or deeds” and you will have your answer! Does it even show up in the ministry? If you are very discerning or observant and then honest about it—you would have to answer “many are affected by this today”.
Christ gave a parable that depicts this ingratitude of mankind very well, even to the point of killing the Son of God, (Matt.21:33-44) but at least those being spoken to had sense enough to figure out Christ was speaking of their sinful approach, (V.45) which was ingratitude in nature.
How is ingratitude specifically a sin?
It should be obvious to all true Bible students & true converts that the Ten Commandments of God are commandments of love, first shown for God and then fellow man, and are to be kept today. Any true disciple of Christ will learn to love as Christ did, (John13:34-35) by the power of the Holy Spirit. If they love Christ & the Father, they will strive to keep all the commandments and love neighbor as well. John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (More than one—meaning all of them.) To break any of these commandments in ingratitude, (thoughtlessly and thanklessly being self-willed) perhaps choosing to lie or bring false testimony to harm a neighbor or family member in the hope of physical gain by deceit, is actually breaking your vow to love God and Christ or even be a true Christian. It severs your Spiritual connection and relationship with God and has to be repented of. It shows you do not love Christ as much as the selfishness or “things” you are lusting after or trying to “take” from someone else, possibly even committing bodily harm because of your pride. This is Satan’s nature, not that of anyone aspiring to be a true Christian.
To use up the blessings that God may bring into your life, perhaps through someone else trying to be a true Christian and by giving of themselves to you or for your benefit; is to cast aside a chance at any Spiritual relationship as something that is worthless to you—which is definitely an attitude of ingratitude. Some, even in the COG today, take their vows to God and each other so lightly and seem quick to forget them, because they get caught up in lust and greed and fall back into the carnal mindset of the world. They forget to even be thankful and how to prioritize what they should be thankful for, that they allow this mindset to become an attitude of ingratitude, which then becomes sin. Prov.4:14-15 “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.” We cannot allow Satan to twist and distort truth in our minds, as he does those of the world! Isa 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (RSV)
If we, as the called and chosen, allow that to start happening again, we could lose sight of what our priorities should be and come back to the point where we cannot recognize the devil’s methods for what they are anymore. That mindset will in turn subject one to fall prey to the sin of ingratitude and begin to cloud their minds to truth and other things we should be thankful (Show gratitude) for. What was once gratitude may quickly turn to ingratitude. (Paul tells us that Satan has a ministry and religion that counterfeits itself as true Christianity, (2Cor.11:13-15) and many of those agents of Satan have infiltrated what is looked on as the COG today. It is no wonder to a true Christian, that some today have this spirit of ingratitude and resort to lying and deceitful and underhanded ways to get something for themselves from the true Christians they mingle among.)
Even in the COG today some have become so blinded by lust and greed for the physical and even companionship with the unconverted, they cannot recognize their own wretchedness in these areas! (Rev.3:17) They find themselves breaking every command of God to get what they want and are unable to see this ingratitude and sinful disobedience is subtly growing in them like leavening does in bread. This takes us back to one of the passages mentioned above in this article, which we did not read; 2 Tim 3:2-5 “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,”—(there can be no clearer case of ingratitude than this, and it comes from Satan’s nature!) V.4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (lusting after or coveting physical things of this life) 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (KJV) Why are true Christians to get away or “turn away” from someone who may have and be displaying this attitude of ingratitude?
To be displaying an attitude that is given above shows a lack of concern for obedience to God, breaking several of His Commands, disrespect for those trying to live by those Commands and the willingness to take advantage of their giving nature —so this is how ingratitude becomes a great sin, both against God and any other human who may have tried or be trying to help and is being rejected. This is ingratitude. (It is very difficult, if not even impossible, to help someone who cannot see the need for that help, but those who have the Holy Spirit actively working in them will far more quickly recognize the wiles of Satan.) Christ lives in true Christians (Thru the Holy Spirit—Gal.2:20) and you will see the giving nature of God come into them and out to others—using wisdom to the best of our ability of course. Christ said he who rejects His true servants has rejected Him. (Luke 10:16)
The Spiritual should take precedence over the physical for the truly converted, every time; not just once in a while and when it is convenient! Paul says of those who cannot see what and how to be thankful; yet claim to be Christian, that they are; “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3:7-NKJ) These will eventually be destroyed by Satan and his ungrateful mindset toward the God who created him. He has rebelled and sinned against God and the ingratitude that shows up in humans actually comes from him. It must be repented of and overcome if we are to have salvation. Paul tells us to learn to be content with such things as we have. (Phil.4:11-12) This is the mindset of being thankful, the opposite of ingratitude.
It takes the Holy Spirit working in and leading the mind to truly grasp Spiritual things and how to conduct one’s self with a right set of priorities. Time is running short, and all true Christians will want to have the mind of Christ (Phil.2:5) living and active in them, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This cannot happen until one repents of being ungrateful and unthankful for every good thing that comes to them in this life, and acknowledging how God chose to bring it, with thanksgiving and proper gratitude to those who may have also been involved. Satan hates those who are diligently trying to overcome his nature and be a true Christian, so he goes after them with a hatred, through other human instruments—even unconverted family members!
James 1:17-22 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. 19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
When the mindset of ingratitude is allowed to begin to grow in a person’s mind, (Even one who may have at one time been converted) it will begin to crowd out good things and true gratitude, until the whole mind is darkened by various sins, stemming from this sin of ingratitude. Satan is so clever and works so subtly, a person may ignore the need of repentance and once again become very heavy laden with sin; their whole mindset will begin to focus back on the self and a “get” way of life once more. The sin of ingratitude has been the destroyer of many down thru time, and it is still working today. However, if we constantly go to God and repent of our failures and allow God to guide us into seeing and having the gratitude we should have, for even the small things in life, it will push out any ingratitude and being unthankful; we can continue to break free and stay free of the captivity of Satan and his mindset of ingratitude which leads to many other sins!
(Written by the editor for tcogmso)