I have a tough time feeling grateful. My bank account does not rank up there in the stratosphere with the top one percenters; my transportation is a 21 year old pickup truck; my wardrobe is the finest the local thrift shop can provide; my daily menu is usually a variation of beans and rice. Yes, when I compare to my neighbors and friends, Larry has missed the prosperity boat.
Then I go to Reuters or Aljazeera or BBC, networks which present the world uncolored by rose-tinted glasses and news not saturated by American politics, and there I see the rest of humanity struggling in war-torn desolation, there I see a father unable to provide survival necessities for his family, there I see poverty which is unparalleled in our sheltered, ego-driven society……. and I get grateful for my beans and rice menu and my second-hand clothes. A majority of the world’s population subsists on poverty level income often without even the basics of clean water, shelter and food. Oh Larry, I say to myself, you are such an ingrate.
I cannot fathom the poverty of the world for I have been blessed to live in an America which has seen the greatest material prosperity ever witnessed by humanity. Three car garages, college educations, designer jeans, meat and potatoes on the dinner table, boats, exquisite jewelry, penthouses, retirement accounts, golf resort vacations, all these are commonplace in the America I see surrounding me. And still, Larry sometimes feels ungrateful and poor. Then God says, “Rejoice!”
“Really? For what? The country is going to hell in a handbasket, our government is corrupt, the poor are getting poorer, the rich don’t give a damn, and Florida State has a losing record this year. What is there to be happy about?”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
It has just now been pointed out to me by HP that “poor” is not a bad thing, at least not spiritually. Those who, with humility, realize and recognize that they are impoverished in spirit and need assistance are indeed blessed for it is then that God can and will intervene if that intervention is sought. Only then can God fix what is broken in me. It is not something I can buy at WalMart, it is not a commodity available through a broker, it is not a shiny new vehicle. Even my church does not hand it out at the front door. I need to earnestly assess my own weakness and spiritual poverty in order to be blessed. I need to get grateful for the love and compassion given to me by a gracious God and then share that same love and compassion with humanity.
Gratitude is an attitude. Gratitude is also an action. Just as the feeling of love becomes active through participating compassion, gratitude is useless if it is not shared.
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17
“We believed that faith without works was dead, but we have now conclusively proved that works without faith is dead also.” Bill W. letter of 1940
What a concept! Faith demands works and works build faith.