The trajectory of the Christian life is one of grace and gratitude. God speaks His grace to us in the gospel and we express our gratitude to Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. This trajectory defines every aspect of our lives. As Christians we are to be characterized by gratitude. Yet, Mark Mitchell in his article, Ingratitude and the Death of Freedom, makes a stinging indictment about the loss of gratitude in modern culture and a dire prediction of the consequences. He writes,
Any serious discussion of gratitude must at the same time consider its opposite, ingratitude, for—and I am not the first to observe this—we tend to be an ungrateful lot. In 1930 the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset observed that modern people are, among other things, characterized by their “radical ingratitude.”
When we speak of gratitude, there will be those who think primarily of etiquette: “I taught my children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and they usually do.” There will be those who think in personal terms: “I have a nice house, a new car, and a boat. Sure, I’m grateful.” Or there will be those who think in terms of the nation: “We live in the greatest nation on earth! Darn right, I’m grateful.” But, although the language of gratitude is not dead—far from it—something is amiss. Our modern, affluent, technological, well-fed society seems to oscillate between smug self-satisfaction and hand-wringing despair, the latter coming on the wave of each new economic, political, social, or natural disaster.
Gratitude though means more than good manners; it means more than the pleasure associated with possessing plenty of nice things; and it surely means more than mere relief that we’ve managed to escape, or at least survive, the latest crisis. These are perhaps shadowy reminders of gratitude, but they are not the heart of the issue.
Mitchell goes on to observe that four cultural shifts that have left moderns characteristically ungrateful.
- First is the loss of God along with an acknowledgment of a moral law that exists prior to human will.
- Second, we have lost contact with the natural world.
- Third, we have too often lost a sense of place.
- Finally, we have experienced a loss of the past.
But this is not really a modern or even a new problem. Solomon once wrote, there is nothing new under the sun — nothing that is that has not been before. Despite many examples in the Psalms of God’s gracious care for those in distress, the Psalmist must still instruct the people, time and time again, to “Give thanks to the Lord.”
As we approach a day on the calendar marked, Thanksgiving, are we thankful? Do we even know how to give thanks or cultivate a life of gratitude? Matthew Henry once wrote, “thanksgiving is good, but thanks-living is better.”
Join us this Lord’s Day, November 19, as we examine Psalm 107 and consider what it looks like to practice “thanks-living.” We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions.
Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.