What do you smell today?
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re driving, and the lane next to you has to merge with yours. Someone tries to jump in front of you, even though you were CLEARLY there first. Out of the kindness of your heart you let them slide in front. And then…they don’t even bother to give you the courtesy thank-you wave! “How could they be so ungrateful?”, you blurt out. It’s the least they could do, right? Something in us recoils at ingratitude, turning up our noses as if it’s a pile of rotting manure!
While you may think it’s just the conditioning of your mom’s incessant reminders to use “please” and “thank you,” there’s actually something more going on. Gratitude is the normal, healthy, life-giving response of God’s creation. (I discussed this recently on a Sunday morning.) When gratitude is replaced by ingratitude the created order is thrown out. There’s an incursion of the enemy of God, bringing with him deception (I did it on my own), and death (the absence of the life-giving Spirit of God). Ingratitude stinks up our world with the rotting smell of the death of God’s life for us. This is why Paul tells one church to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.” (1 Thess 5:18) God’s will is where God’s purposes and plans are being put into play. Another way to talk about it is where God is “king,” or the kingdom of God. That’s why Jesus tells his followers to pray, “YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
It turns out that the simple act of giving thanks can be what ushers in a sliver of the kingdom of God. It brings God’s will and God’s kingdom into this darkened world. And the aroma of Christlikeness that Paul talks about (2 Cor. 2:15) begins to overpower the stench of ingratitude.
So this Thanksgiving, sit up tall, and take a deep breath. What do you smell? Is it life-giving gratitude, giving thanks in all circumstances? Of is it the rotting stench of ingratitude? I’m going with gratitude!
P.S. If you have something you want to go on record as being grateful for, use the comment box below!