Are You Ungrateful? 7 Signs You Might Be
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to talk about gratitude.
Every year around this season, Americans express their thanks. But we know that we should express gratitude all year long.
The problem is that many of us are ungrateful. We would never admit it. You probably haven’t ever heard someone say, “Hi. I’m John and I am ungrateful.” Instead, when we describe ourselves, we like to use kind adjectives.
Not only do we not want to admit we are ungrateful, but we usually fail to even recognize it in ourselves. We are quick to notice when others are ungrateful, but we don’t see ungratefulness taking root in our own hearts.
Before Thanksgiving arrives, we hope you will take some time to evaluate the state of your heart.
The Problem with Being Ungrateful
It’s troubling for anyone to be ungrateful, but for those who call themselves Christians, being ungrateful is extremely problematic.
Just calling someone “an ungrateful Christian” should be an oxymoron!
We aren’t speaking of being disappointed, sad, or let down when you are facing something difficult. We are speaking about an overall attitude.
If you come off as someone who is ungrateful, it doesn’t exactly shout, “Hey! I’m a Christian and I am so thankful God saved my life!”
Although, more than turning others off from Christianity, your ungrateful attitude is also putting your heart in jeopardy.
Even worse, you run the risk of offending God. For example, in the Book of Luke, we learn about Jesus’ healing ten lepers. After he healed all ten of these men, only one returned to express gratitude. Jesus responded, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18)
When we fail to express our thanks to the God who has given us everything, it as though we’re saying we don’t need Him.
Got Questions explains, “Ingratitude is a sin with severe repercussions. Romans 1:18–32 gives a detailed description of the downfall of a person or a society. Listed alongside […] every kind of rebellion is unthankfulness. Verse 21 says, “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.” This tells us that God takes gratefulness—and ungratefulness—seriously. […] Thankfulness toward God requires a belief in God at the very least, and ingratitude fails to fulfill our responsibility to acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:5–6; Psalm 100:4). When we refuse to be thankful or to express gratitude, we grow hard-hearted and proud. We take for granted all God has given us and become our own gods.”
No one wants to admit this about themselves, but it’s time to pick up a metaphorical mirror, friends.
Look over this following list and see if ungratefulness may have taken root in your spirit.
You are Proud.
Do others think you are arrogant?
The definition of proud is “having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or superiority.”
Pride and ungratefulness are usually paired together. How so?
When you are proud, you don’t feel the need to thank God or others. You assume you have received the gifts in your life because of your own achievements.
Pastor John Piper explains, “At the root of all ingratitude is the love of one’s own greatness. For genuine gratitude admits that we are beneficiaries of an unearned bequest. We are cripples leaning on the cross-shaped crutch of Jesus Christ. We are paralytics living minute by minute in the iron lung of God’s mercy. […] The natural person, apart from saving grace, hates to think of himself in these images: unworthy beneficiary, cripple, paralytic, child. They rob him of his glory by giving it all to God.”
You are Bitter.
Do you tend to hold grudges?
Those who are ungrateful tend to be bitter and hard-hearted. They hold on to past hurts and cannot move past them.
Instead of thanking God for bringing them through a difficult season, they focus solely on what has gone wrong in their life. They struggle to find the good or any reason to be grateful.
You are a Complainer.
Do you tend to complain? Do you have daily vent sessions with your co-workers (or about your co-workers)?
The Apostle Paul once wrote about a group of complainers who were “destroyed by the Destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:10). Most people don’t realize that complaining opens a door for the Enemy of our souls to bring us to ruin.
Truthfully speaking, those who complain, grumble, and vent tend to be those who are ungrateful.
That’s because, instead of looking for reasons to express thanks, they focus on finding things to complain about. As we all know, if you’re looking for good, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for bad, you’ll find that too.
You are Unappreciative.
Do you take others for granted?
When was the last time you thanked your spouse for making dinner? When was the last time you thanked the custodian at your office? When was the last time you thanked your small group leader for opening their home?
Of course, we all forget to say “thank you” now and then. But those who are unappreciative take advantage of others on a regular basis. They come off as entitled as though they expect others to do for them with no credit.
You are Jealous.
Do you find yourself constantly feeling jealous over what others have that you lack? Do you often wonder why other people have it better than you?
There are so many people I’ve met over the years who get upset and are unable to celebrate when someone else is blessed or succeeds. A sign of an ungrateful heart is someone who is jealous and has a hard time being happy for others.
This makes me think of Proverbs 14:30, which says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
In other words, envy and jealousy in your heart does a lot more damage to you than it does to the other person. But the tranquil heart causes a person to experience blessing and rest in what our good Father has provided.
You are Discontent.
Are you never satisfied? Are you always looking for more or better?
This is a sign you are discontent. Discontent is the result of someone who is too focused on their lack rather than their abundance (a.k.a. ungrateful). Besides, is God’s faithfulness to you not sufficient?
One of the great promises of God that most Christians recall often is that He will never leave nor forsake us. But remember what comes just before that: “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
You are Negative.
We have all known someone who acted like a “Debbie Downer” or “Negative Nancy.” You may even be that person!
No one wants to be around that person.
They are likely unhappy because they are ungrateful. If you focus more on the negative than the positive, you are sowing seeds of ungratefulness.
What to Do If You Recognize Yourself
By acknowledging our ungratefulness, we can begin taking steps to change our attitude to one of gratitude. The good news is that we have a compassionate and merciful heavenly Father who will forgive our ungratefulness and help us in becoming thankful people if we desire that.
We’ll follow up in next week’s blog with tips on how you can have an attitude of gratitude all year long. For now, pray that God would give you fresh eyes to notice all the blessings that He has put in your life, whether that be material blessings (home/car/income), relational blessings (spouse/children/friends), or spiritual blessings (peace/joy/eternal life). Then, write those down on a sheet of paper and make a “blessings” list.