11/16/11

Gratitude's Link to Humility

As I've watched various groups of protesters on television the past few weeks, I've noticed that there are some who seek the simplest things ... and others who are power-hungry and wish to bring America down.

But one of the themes that keeps jumping out at me is the ingratitude of people. It's as if they're shouting, "It's not fair ... life owes me!"

Don't misunderstand me. I know that times are tough, money is scarce, and it's hard to find jobs. As I write this, two dear friends are struggling, and it breaks my heart. I pray for them, and I'm asking God if there's some way I can meet some practical needs.

The truly poor or hurting need our help, but I also know that even those in poverty in the United States still have more than many around the world ~ maybe not more "things," but certainly more freedoms and opportunities. We are so blessed, and yet we seem so ungrateful ~ except, perhaps, on one day each November.

I re-read a favorite book this week ~ Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. One of the devotionals in the back of the book spoke about this topic of "Gratitude and Humility."

DeMoss wrote, "One of the fundamental qualities invariably found in a grateful person is humility. Gratitude is the overflow of a humble heart, just as surely as an ungrateful, complaining spirit flows out of a proud heart." (1)

James tells us that God opposes or "stiff-arms" the proud ~ He keeps them at a distance on purpose. Listen to these words: "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble." (James 4:6).

But we have a choice, we can "humble ourselves" ~ and when we do, God draws near.

Humble people are so unlike the proud. Humble people aren't wrapped up in themselves. Life is all about Jesus, not us ~ and the humble recognize this. They also recognize that God's good gifts are all around us, and not because God owes us anything.

The truly humble person is "grateful for the least little kindness that is extended," (2) DeMoss said, because we deserve nothing.

I get upset with the Wall Street protesters, but the truth is, I whine a lot myself. I whine about circumstances, relationship problems, perceived lack, actual lack, and so much more. I gripe about stoplights that are too long. I whine that I don't have the money to replace some frustrating technology. My complaining spirit reveals a proud heart of entitlement and expectation. It shows up as anger, irritability, resentment, or "belly-aching." Like a temperamental toddler, I whine, "It's not fair!"

But when I pause to humble myself before the Lord, I realize how much He has already given me. In God's presence, and viewing life from His perspective, I see how blessed I am. Everything I need flows from time and the right heart attitude in His presence.

How about you, Friend? Do you find yourself complaining all the time? What is motivating this whine-y spirit?

Look around today and see what you already have (and I don't just mean "stuff"). See what you have in Christ. See what you have in light of eternity. See what you have that many others do not. Really "see."

Look inside and see the condition of your heart. Are there attitudes of expectation and entitlement? If you see those ugly twins, confess them as forms of pride, and surrender your heart to God. Then, with a truly humble heart, express your profound gratitude to God.

"Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise." (3)

Do those words express the cry of your heart? Every blessing you and I have today is because of the bountiful grace of God.

(1) Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy
(Moody Publishers, 2009), p. 183
(2) Ibid., p. 184
(3) Robert Robinson (1735-1790), "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" (http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh400.sht)

2 comments:

Charlotte said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! and again I say YES!

Dawn Wilson said...

Well, Charlotte, you certainly leave no doubt about how you feel! HA! Now the key is for both of us to live out this truth. "Father God, teach us that everything we have is from your hand. Teach us to be grateful."