October 14, 2015 Ponder
In the middle of a list of directives for followers of Jesus, the Apostle Paul includes this one: “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:17). I have been pondering this command while considering a concept by an author I respect: Since gratefulness is a command, it follows that ungratefulness is sin.
It has also been suggested that the basic sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden might have been ungratefulness. Do we move away from being grateful when we think we are missing out on something that we deserve? Was the counterfeit god, Satan, telling those first humans that they deserved something better – that Creator God was holding out on them?
From what we know of Satan’s history, he was once the highest of the angelic beings – a significant position given to him by the Creator. Apparently, he decided that was not good enough. He wanted God’s position – and he lost everything. He is doomed forever and will eventually be put away and prevented from doing any further damage to anyone or anything.
But in the Garden of Eden, Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to follow the thinking that got him kicked out of heaven. He led them to believe that there was more to be enjoyed. Can we even imagine why they bought his lie? How could you improve on perfection, provision and the privilege of actually walking with God in that beautiful place!
I have to believe that Adam and Eve understood gratefulness and that they practiced it. The Bible does not tell us, but I think their daily walks with God were filled with expressions of thanksgiving and awe. And I wonder if during the conversation with Satan they lost all thought of gratefulness as they considered what they might possibly be missing. And then they decided they deserved something more.
Today we refer to this as a sense of entitlement. It is the idea that we deserve something that we do not have, so we look for ways to attain it. Most likely that is one reason why Jesus talked about being satisfied with having our needs met for today and not worrying about tomorrow. When we are grateful for what we have, we probably will not demand more.
So this week I am pondering the possibility that whatever was taking place in the minds of Adam and Eve when they were distracted by the tempter, they just might have lost their attitude of gratefulness long enough to feel a sense of entitlement. And in that instant, they failed to believe that Creator God was fully trustworthy. We know what happened to them – and now to us.
Realizing the experience of Adam and Eve in that environment of sinless perfection, I am motivated to focus on gratefulness – for everything. Surrounded by a culture that often forgets gratefulness, I need to be extra aware of the potential for me to become ungrateful. Because when that happens, it is sin.
Pastor Bill Ehmann