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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

Let Me Do It

14 Sep

Waiting for a friend, I watched a rambunctious little girl at the mall, obviously in the throes of stubborn independence. Everything was “no” this and “no” that. Then suddenly, she took advantage of her mom’s focus at a kiosk to reach up, grab the handlebar of the baby stroller and take off running.

HatchingAPlan“I do it! I do it,” she yelled with glee.

The mom, clearly upset, chased her daughter as the little rebel barely missed hitting a couple. The baby in the stroller woke up and started crying.

“No, Emi. Stop,” the mom yelled.

It’s amazing how a little one can run. The mom caught up with her daughter, swept her off her feet and plopped her down on a mall bench. I watched as she emphatically explained to little Emi why running off with the stroller was wrong and even dangerous. Emi wasn’t ready to listen.

“Look at me,” the mom said.

The little girl never actually looked her mom squarely in the eyes. She sort of glanced sideways at her. And I thought I saw an impish smile … a plan hatching.

Believing she had won, her mom turned back to shopping.

“I do it. I do it!” The little rebel was off and running as the baby in the stroller wailed in protest.

Poor mom. It was going to be a long day.

Aside from my own thoughts about parenting that day—how I might have handled the situation and stubborn child differently—my mind drifted back to my own childhood.

That phrase “I do it” reminded me of an attitude-altering story.

I won a sewing contest in grade school. The Sears store near our home in Chicago sponsored the contest, and winners in different categories also had to model their creations in a store fashion show. My peach-colored dress and short cape, all edged in peach and turquoise floral trim, was cheerful and elegant (lovely for Easter).

I won … But I wasn’t happy at all.

You see, while I was sewing the garment, my mom repeatedly took the material out of my hands. “Here, let me do it,” she’d say. I stood by her at the machine with a frustrated frown.

When the outfit was completed, I figured Mom had sewn most of it. She deserved the prize, not me.

[I wonder how many children feel the same way when moms or dads take school projects out of their hands. And yes, I was guilty of that … surprising, considering my own story.]

After the fashion show, I was determined not to let ANYONE take things out of my hands. My “I do it” spirit was alive and thriving. I just didn’t make a big deal out of it. When people offered to help, I responded with an simple, “No, thanks.” It wasn’t that I thought I could do better; I just wanted control.

Even if I failed, I wanted to be in charge.

Although I had prayed for wisdom as a young girl, I wasn’t willing to listen to anyone’s advice. I didn’t have a teachable spirit. I was proud and stubborn.

Outwardly I cooperated. Inwardly, not so much. It was like the little boy who, told to sit down, obeyed. But he told his mama, “I’m standing up on the inside!”

I was acting like the Israelites in the Old Testament. They proved over and over again the foolishness of their obstinance and disobedience; and under the law, this stubbornness was a serious matter (Deuteronomy 17:12Zechariah 7:11-12).

It’s still a serious matter; but I am so thankful for the grace of God. I’m glad for the covering of Jesus for my sins—including stubbornness.

For so long, God wanted full control of my life, and I resisted Him. It was like I wanted salvation; I even said, “Jesus is Lord.” But the truth was, I thought I could run my own life.

I’m glad God showed me my heart after I joined a revival team in my early 20’s. One day, listening to a revival message on stubbornness, I was deeply convicted of my secret rebellious attitude (1 Samuel 15:23a). (Yes, even a “good girl” can be stubborn and rebellious in her heart.) And I discovered stubbornness is linked to a “stiff-necked” lack of belief (2 Kings 17:14).

How? When we are stubborn against our Father’s will for us, we don’t believe He knows best.

That day, it was as if the Lord was saying to me: “Here, my child … let Me do it. Let me have control. Let Me change your life. Let me live out My life in and through you.”

My heart broke and I stopped resisting.

The years of “Leave me alone; I can do it” arrogance melted away in sweet surrender to the Sovereign Lord.

I determined to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24-27) with a teachable spirit (Psalm 25:5; 86:11). And I discovered a powerful truth: when we surrender everything to Him (our plans, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, frustrations, habits—everything), He can run our lives infinitely better than we can.

How foolish to resist His loving guidance and help.

There may be an area of your life where the Lord is whispering, “I care and I want to help you. Will you let Me do it? Will you trust me with your heart?”

How will you respond?

– Dawn

Photo adapted, Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Missy Always Right

14 Jun

I grew up hearing the phrase, “The customer is always right!”

But I love this sign on Fleegleman’s Kosher Deli: “The customer is always right; misinformed maybe—perhaps impolite, stubborn and irate, even dumb—but never wrong!” *

As a kid, I had a bit of a know-it-all attitude. One of my playground nicknames—because I was always pointing out infractions of game rules—was “Missy AlwaysRightAlways Right.”

Over time, I learned a bit of humility. I may have known the right rules or had the right answer, but I learned to bite my tongue. I discovered an important concept:  no one likes those who feel they have to “be right” all the time. I was sabotaging my relationships. Being ‘right’ isn’t always the best way to nurture friendships.

Unfortunately, I swung too far the other way … from know-it-all pride to “whatever.” I was afraid to stand up for truth. Scared to speak my mind. Frozen … without a voice. I started wimping out, spiritually.

In time, I learned I could let others have their opinions too. I didn’t have to argue every point. As my Grandparents said, there might be “more than one way to skin a cat.”

But on the other hand, there were some things worth fighting for. Paul encouraged believers to “stand firm then, with the belt of truth….” (Ephesians 6:14). “Be on guard; stand firm in the faith;” he said, “be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). He balanced this with another truth in verse 14: “Do everything in love.”

It’s this balance I needed instead of swinging from one extreme to the other. We don’t have to hit people over the head when they have a different belief system or even different convictions. But there’s nothing wrong with speaking up for our own beliefs, even if other people don’t like them.

We need courage to stand for what is right, combined with tact and understanding. Sometimes we see the whole picture and have a firm grasp on the truth; but other times, we need to be quiet or ask for others’ input.

As Winston Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

For the Christian, this is where the “one another” verses kick in. We’re to love, encourage and be kind to one another, even as we teach or inform (John 13:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 4:32)—not to put down, lord-it-over, or intimidate others with a puffed-up sense of being right.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. There’s nothing wrong with speaking up about our convictions when circumstances are appropriate. And perhaps the toughest time to do this is with friends and loved ones who disagree with us or think we’re taking things a bit too far. (But if God is our Ruler and He is speaking to our hearts, can we do anything less than obey Him—regardless of others’ responses?) The scriptures command us to hold fast to the Word of Life and to the confession of our hope in Christ (Philippians 2:16; Hebrews 10:23). Holding fast is connected to standing strong.

So let’s get this “always right” thing straight.

  • Being “always right” is negative if our words are accompanied by pride or a desire to put others down, even if our words are true!
  • But being “always right” is positive if our words are grounded in the scriptures, shared with conviction and courage, and flowing from humility and a desire to share God’s truth in love.

Isn’t that positive kind of “always right” what you want to be?

– Dawn

* Humor: “The Customer,” http://www.getamused.com

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