Thanksgiving is next week, but recently, I was rudely reminded of how unthankful some people are. I was probably over-sensitive at the time because I’d just finished teaching a series on ungratefulness during our Wednesday night Bible Class. That group of lessons fell within a larger, ongoing series based on how terrible people will be as one of the signs of these last days, which started with Jesus’ ministry on earth (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Acts 2:1-21; Hebrews 1:1, 2).
I believe that the ingratitude was a sign of low self-esteem by that individual; that the individual was so focused on themselves they’d forgotten all the good that’s been done for them because they are valued by others. We all probably tend to do that and take some things for granted to an extent.
For example, as we did last week (11/11/11), it’s easy to be thankful for those in the military and their families for the time and risks they take to protect our country. Without minimizing that one bit, and without intending to harm anyone’s self-esteem with a guilt trip (although if the shoe fits), when was the last time you were thankful that police officers, firefighters, or EMTs take risks protect our lives and property here? Or, what came to mind the last time you had to take a detour because there was a gaping hole in the street with workers standing in mud to repair a water leak? Are you thankful you’ve got water and other utilities coming to your house and place of work? Many people work 24/7 to make that happen.
Further, working at the grocery, or any store, isn’t easy, and there’s a chain of processing even before your food gets to the grocery. Did you know that during planting, harvesting, and calving (or other birthing periods) someone in the farm family often works long hours running equipment or making sure that mothers and newborns are safe and that lives have been lost even in this community due to the fatigue from those long hours?
Do you consider how hard others work to produce or deliver things to meet your needs and wants? You know how hard you work as a productive member of society. Realizing that each person can offer something of value to every other member of society gives each one a sense of personal worth – self-esteem. Expressing gratitude for what others do often leads to greater service because of an increased sense of self-worth. Having gratitude, whether overtly expressed or not, increases one’s own self-worth and becomes a source of joy.
God is actually the provider of our sustenance, protection, and desires (Acts 17:24-28; 2 Corinthians 9:10; I Corinthians 3:5-9; Romans 13:1, 5; 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 15). As we transition from Thanksgiving to celebrating Jesus’ birth (beginning the day after Thanksgiving), let’s remember every day that God placed the greatest value on our lives when Jesus came to earth to die so we could live life more abundantly (John 10:10; 3:16, 17).