One of the greatest moments of betrayal is when someone, especially someone you love, returns your good with evil. They are ungrateful for all you have done for them. Their selfishness is putrid in your nostrils and it literally makes you ill. This theme is one that runs through much of William Shakespeare’s work; one has to wonder how much ingratitude he had experienced.
While classic literature gives us clear examples of ingratitude, the Bible not only gives us that, but also it gives us the remedy for the illness we feel when we receive ingratitude. David was among one of the most reviled and unappreciated men in the Bible:
“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)
So what do you do with the ungrateful one in your life? I think you already know the answer to this. As a Christian I am called to model Christ’s behavior and so I must look to His life for examples of how I am to live mine. This is where being a Christian gets real hard because rare is the lesson Jesus teaches that we gladly embrace. Nevertheless we must follow our Lord’s example. Imagine hating Jesus so much that you would desire to stone Him? Unimaginable? Well it happened; more than once:
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’” (John 10:31-32)
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn is that if I stand in the gap for God’s truth, the world is going to hate me; it has to. The gospel is offensive (which does not give us license to be offensive), and we are almost foolish to expect the world to embrace us when we share the aletheia truth of God’s Word. If we stand against cults and false religions, rare is the time you will receive a thank you for doing so. And guess what? Jesus told us this also:
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’” (John 15:18-25)
Guess who Jesus was quoting when He said, “They hated Me without a cause”? That’s right, David:
“Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it.” (Psalm 69:4)
Is there anyway as Christians we can escape this ingratitude and condemnation, especially from our loved ones? Yes:
Don’t speak biblical truth
Don’t search out a matter to get to the bottom of it (ignorance is bliss)
Don’t take unpopular stands
Don’t come across as judgmental by speaking out against sin
I’m sure there are more, but those alone should inoculate and insulate us from any type of scorn. As a Christian you may look at that list and say we don’t have a choice; we cannot do those things you’ve listed. Actually, you do have a choice, and you and I unfortunately make those choices almost every day. Why?
Because when we do try to witness, speak Biblical truth, search out a matter, take unpopular stands, and appear judgmental by speaking out against sin, we are inevitably attacked and our flesh says, “Defend thyself!”
And yet we do not see that example from our Savior. So what are we to do? First, stop trying to fix the ungrateful person; he is what he is. Let us pray for that person that the gospel would become a reality in his or her life. Second, stop focusing on them and focus on you. Commenting on Psalm 35, Matthew Henry wrote:
“Call a man ungrateful, and you can call him no worse; this was the character of David’s enemies. Herein he was a type of Christ. David shows how tenderly he had behaved towards them in afflictions. We ought to mourn for the sins of those who do not mourn for themselves. We shall not lose by the good offices we do to any, how ungrateful soever they may be. Let us learn to possess our souls in patience and meekness like David, or rather after Christ’s example.”
I told you it wouldn’t be easy. It never is. Biblical principles for the most part are simple to understand yet difficult to live out.
That is why we must never try to do so in our own reasoning or strength.
It takes the grace of God to be like Jesus.
May I be like Him today…
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers