The Ingratitude Twist

28 Feb

IngratitudeAndPride_Pretzel_LOLwithGodA little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for 25 cents each.

Every day a young man would leave his office building at lunch time and, as he passed her pretzel stand, he would leave her a quarter, but would never take a pretzel.

This went on for more than five years. The two of them never spoke.

One day as the man passed the old ladies pretzel stand and left his quarter as usual, the pretzel woman spoke to him,

“Sir, I appreciate your business. You are a good customer, but I have to tell you that the pretzel price has increased to 35 cents.” *

The surprising twist to this humorous story is the woman’s ingratitude. She apparently couldn’t see how much she’d already received.

Ingratitude and pride are often connected and twisted together, because pride always expects more than it receives.

I think of Satan, once a glorious angel, who indulged in pride, practiced ingratitude and will ultimately reap judgement (Isaiah 14:12-14; John 12:31; Revelation 20). He desires to cultivate pride and an ungrateful spirit in the hearts of all who love God.

C.J. Mahaney wrote in the book, Humility:

“Are you a thankful observer of the countless indications of [God’s] provision, His presence, His kindness and his grace? An ungrateful person is a proud person. If I’m ungrateful, I’m arrogant. And if I’m arrogant, I need to remember God doesn’t sympathize with me in that arrogance; He is opposed to the proud.

Gratitude fosters humility, and humility fosters gratitude.

America has become such an ungrateful nation. America is abundantly blessed, but she is shamefully proud. I’m not talking about American “exceptionalism.” America truly has been blessed by God and has unparalleled freedom. But no nation is truly free that rejects the truth and wisdom of God.

We who have so much have become a nation of grumblers, always wanting more. Unlike many places in the world, we have indoor plumbing, air conditioning, running water, grocery stores stocked with food, electricity – so many blessings.

Like ancient Israel (Numbers 13:27; 14:2-4, 11), we complain that we never have enough. And God is angered by our murmuring. The Lord called Israel a “wicked congregation” (14:27) because of His people’s sinful ingratitude.

We see the same pride and ingratitude in Jesus’ day. He healed ten lepers, but only one—a Samaritan—turned to glorify God and give thanks (Luke 17:12-19).

We become ungrateful when we forget the gifts of God, or pridefully think we deserve more from His hand, rather than being thankful for His abundant mercy, grace and provision.

Americans are fueled by commercialism—magazine ads and television commercials that make us think we deserve more … More … MORE! If we don’t get the “more,” we think life is somehow giving us a raw deal.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “We have been the recipients of the choicest blessings of heaven. . . .  but we have forgotten God! . . . we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

That’s pride. Pride that leads to the corruption of ingratitude. It’s a selfish sin that is growing in these last days (2 Timothy 3:1-4). We are “proud … ungrateful ….” We haven’t just forgotten God. In many cases, Americans deny He even exists!

But what happens when a person remembers God—when a person stands in true humility before the great, sovereign Lord of heaven?

King David exemplifies this so beautifully as he spoke before his people who gave to the building of the Temple:

Blessed be You, Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of You, and You reign over all; and in Your hand is power and might; and in Your hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of You, and of Your own have we given You” (1 Chronicles 29:10-14).

Do you have a humble spirit like David before the Lord? Or do you have the “ingratitude twist” of the murmuring Israelites?

* Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3926, 12-20-12

- Dawn

Miles Apart: a Special ‘Valentine’s Day’ Message

14 Feb

SnoopyAndHeart_AbsenceQuote“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? I’m with Schultz. Absence makes my heart say, “Hurry home, Babe!”

My husband and I are often miles apart.

He’s in another state or somewhere around the world. I can’t tell you how many birthdays, Valentine’s Days and anniversaries we’ve spent apart since we were married 40 years ago.

But one thing’s for sure,

I’d rather be miles apart than “miles apart.”

I know so many couples who are miles apart spiritually, emotionally, socially, financially, physically. They’re under the same roof, but . . .

They’ve embraced different worldviews. They can’t agree. They don’t see eye to eye. Their hearts aren’t in the same place. They might not even share the same bed.

It’s so sad.

God made us all different, and He doesn’t want cloned spouses. But His plan is for couples to be “one.” Not only one in physical union, but together in the way they face the world, united in how they will bring up children, agreeing in how to use resources, etc.

Each partner might bring something unique into their union, but the goal is to be a stronger “one.”

My husband and I could not be more different in how we approach social events, how we disciplined the boys, how we spend or invest, how we worship. But together, our friendships, parenting, finances, and communion with God have grown. Our oneness is more beautiful than we ever were alone.

Humans struggle over unity (with anyone). We like our independence. But if God calls a couple to marriage, He also calls them to unity (Genesis 2:24-25), a reflection of the unity in the Godhead (John 17:11, 20-23).

God doesn’t want us to be “miles apart.”

Here are eight ways to promote more unity in your relationship:

  1. Pray together. Ask God to bless your relationship and create the “oneness” you desire.
  2. Seek God and imitate Christ. Remember, if you are both Christ-followers: the close each of you draws to the Lord, the closer you will be drawn toward each other.
  3. Study your spouse to understand his/her basic personality, temperament and gifts.
  4. Create undistracted time together to discuss mutual goals.
  5. Show genuine love to each other each day.
  6. Play together. Don’t make marriage just about dealing with all the “hard stuff.”
  7. Be honest. Discuss your and your spouse’s needs.
  8. Remember you are “one flesh.” Sometimes, plan for your partner’s sexual needs; other times, be spontaneous!

Are you “miles apart” from your spouse today? What can you do to shrink that distance and create more unity today?

- Dawn

 

 

 

Compassionate Candor

7 Feb

Sometimes candor, the quality of being totally frank, is helpful. Sometimes, it hurts.

I’m not sure what to think about this exchange!

“Soon after our last child left home for college,” the woman said, “my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses. ‘You know, honey,’ I said sweetly, ‘Without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married.’

“And my husband replied with a grin, ‘Honey, without my glasses, you still look pretty good too!” *

When we use candor, we are being open and honest with a person. But too often, the temptation is to become harsh or insensitive.CompassionateCandor

Paul tells us to become more like Jesus our conversations.

While the context of Ephesians 4:15 is the need to speak truth in doctrinal matters—that we must speak God’s truth rather than worldly philosophies, and do so lovingly—many counselors use this verse to remind Christ-followers how to speak to each other if they are to “grow up into every way into him . . . into Christ.”

Certainly, even without this verse, we know our speech is to be truthful, because truthfulness is part of God’s character. He is a God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 57:10). Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6).

But Ephesians 4:15 says our speech must also be loving. And that’s not surprising, because God is love  (1 John 4:8).

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons we do not speak with compassionate candor is our problem with pride.

  • We think we know it all.
  • We think we know more than others.
  • We think it’s our responsibility to set them straight.

Oh, how we need humility before we speak. Why?

1. Humility recognizes we have our own issues, our own struggles. That’s why Jesus encouraged people to consider their own problems before confronting others with the truth they may need to hear (Matthew 7:1-5). We’re not to judge others; God is the judge of human hearts. When we are mindful of (and even acknowledge) our own weaknesses and limitations, our hearer will be more receptive. This kind of authenticity also brings honor to the Lord.

And authenticity is a key word here. Pride and defensiveness will become evident in body language or tone of voice, even if our words sound “humble.”

2. Humility before speaking will communicate a Christ-like attitude. We are not to think of ourselves too highly, but to speak from a desire to serve others (see Romans 12:3 and Philippians 2:1-5).

3. Humility will allow us to listen first, choose our words carefully and not jump to any conclusions (James 1:19). Honesty must be accompanied by thoughtfulness and sensitivity.

4. Humility will allow us to be gracious, charitable, compassionate with our words. (Consider Luke 6:36-38.) The intention will not be to embarrass, but to help. [In the case of an erring believer, to goal is to restore! There is a proper way to speak truth in love, in that case (Matthew 18:15-17a).]

Humility is actually just part of speaking truth in love. Mary Kassian, author of Conversation Peace, said, regarding the kind of speech we need to share: “… tenderheartedness is just part of the equation, but you also have to add honesty in there, authenticity . . . humility and faithfulness.” **

Compassionate Candor is a matter of packaging truth for others in a way that will help and serve them and glorify God.

We must birth the truth in humility and wrap it in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a love.

We practice this best in the home. How do we practice compassionate candor with a marriage partner? With our children?

Practicing Compassionate Candor:

1. Consider the most kind, diplomatic way to express a painful truth. Wrap it in love that the person will understand. Maybe you can even sandwich it between genuine praise and concern for the person’s perspective.

For example: “Sweetie, I appreciate your hard work in the yard this morning. Do you think you could put the tools away now? I know you don’t want all that stuff to get in the way or our neighbors seeing the pretty yard when they come home from work.”

2. But don’t think in terms of a formula: If I say this and this, he will do that and that. Just be genuine and speak the truth in love, but remember, your “packaging” of the truth may look different from situation to situation.

Kassian said, “People communicate in different ways, and so sometimes that’s just a matter of understanding , or sometimes understanding someone’s communication pattern. . . .” **

It often helps to ask questions for greater understanding before sharing your “truth” statement; but be careful to be wise and loving even in asking questions.

“You want to be very careful not to use loaded questions,” Kassian said, “or questions where you’re not asking a question but you’re passing judgement.” **

3. Don’t manipulate. Again, check your heart first. Are you humble? What’s your purpose?

4. Be alert to times your family members practice compassionate candor and praise it.

5. Be encouraging every day. Be sure you are practicing approval, genuine praise and gratitude so family members will be more open to the interaction of more difficult conversations.

Think about how you speak the truth in your home. Would a bit more humility encourage compassionate candor?

* Humor adapted from CybersaltDigest, 4-8-13

** From “Using Your Words to Heal,” https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/using-your-words-heal/

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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