A 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