If I was Moses I think I may have quit the job of leader of Israel? Why? Because at times they were nothing but a bunch of ingrates. The Israelites grumbled about being taken out of captivity, they grumbled about being delivered by God, they even grumbled about the food God provided them in the wilderness. Nothing will wear you down faster than the ingratitude of those you love and are trying to lead. It takes a special man like Moses to lead a complaining nation. Here’s just a taste of Israel’s ingratitude:
“And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, ‘We will not come up! Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!’” (Numbers 16:12-14)
In the category of “the grass is always greener on the other side,” the above statement is in its own special category. Some of the Israelites considered Egypt “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Isn’t it amazing how people are so willing to give up liberty for the sake of comfort? That’s a whole other series in itself.
If I am called to lead or take a stand for God, I do not have the luxury of quitting just because of people’s ingratitude. That can never be my motivation for doing God’s Will. Why? First, it sets me up for failure every time; and second, and more importantly, I am to serve my Lord because I love Him and I want to bring Him glory. Nevertheless, ingratitude is going to come:
“This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me: There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. Then I said: ‘Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.’” (Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)
A heart of gratitude is not a natural state for you and me; the opposite is quite true. It is in my nature to be selfish and to focus my attention upon myself. It is an act of supernatural power to change my heart to one of gratitude, however, that comes from my remembrance of all the Lord has done for me. That is why He instituted the Lord’s Supper; so we would remember all He did.
And yet, we still find ourselves idolizes the worldly things, choosing gold over God, honor over the Holy Spirit, and jealousies over Jesus. Many quotes of Benjamin Franklin have been attributed to the Bible, and the following quote is not one of them, but it definitely speaks to our topic:
“Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones, and repay greater ones – with ingratitude.”
If I stay on the path of ingratitude I will find myself in a place I do not recognize, to the point I would have never believed:
“Fierce witnesses rise up; they ask me things that I do not know. They reward me evil for good, to the sorrow of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart. I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother. But in my adversity they rejoiced and gathered together; attackers gathered against me, and I did not know it; they tore at me and did not cease; with ungodly mockers at feasts they gnashed at me with their teeth.” (Psalm 35:11-16)
Will I ever get to the point of what David describes in Psalm 35? I pray not, but if I stay on the path of ingratitude, it will eventually lead to the point that I return evil for good.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers