They say the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. Well, that’s until you get there. It’s so easy to imagine that your life would be far much better if you got that job, that promotion, a bigger salary, a life partner or a better one for those married, a child, a piece of land or a place in a good estate, a car or a better one or two, if you moved overseas if you owned a business and the list goes on. It seems your “friends” on social media who have those things are always living the good life. You envy them so much but pretend to click like and type you are so blessed. Yes, we know life is not perfect and maybe they also have problems. But you know what? Maybe having their problems wouldn’t be that bad. Crying in a limousine they say is better than on a bicycle. You know exactly what I’m talking about. But I’ll tell you this, you wouldn’t be happy if you had everything going for them either. Why? Well, because you are suffering from a cancerous disease, that of the ungrateful heart.
When Ungratefulness Creeps In
This year I started doing something I have not done before. I took up journaling which I know makes the men reading this doubt my masculinity a bit. I hope no one reports me to Andrew Kibe. I mean which real man journals surely, they say? Well, journaling aside I especially wanted to capture something I’m grateful for every day. Man, I was surprised not by the many things I could be grateful for but by how slowly ungratefulness had crept into my heart. I look back and realise all the things I have not been grateful for in my pursuit to do more in life and ministry. Like many well-meaning Christians, I’m one of those people who feel I can be doing more for God and I don’t want to waste my life. But there’s a problem the ambitious Christian and Gospel worker doesn’t see. It’s so easy to miss what God is doing in our lives and our ministries because we feel we need to do more. Sadly it’s easy to start envying others. How can that guy be doing so well? He is even younger than me. I have had better Gospel ministry training? I have been doing this longer than them. What I’m I not doing right?
Isn’t it sad that Christians and Gospel workers in particular can have the same kind of ambition and competition as the people of the world?
In our pursuit to want to do more in life and ministry, we can so easily miss what God is already doing so well. What he is doing among those we walk with. What he has done in people we never thought would change. Isn’t it sad that Christians and Gospel workers in particular can have the same kind of ambition and competition as the people of the world? To keep wanting more in the name of establishing God’s kingdom while in truth we are playing to the tune of our ungrateful hearts? To want to do more for God not for his glory but for our share of fame. To want to be the best preacher in our constituency? To be an author and have a name that needs no introduction. To be a church and organisation with a place on the table. We might give good biblical answers for our ambition but sometimes we are just not grateful and content with what God is doing in and through us. But how do you tell if you have this disease? Here are two features to look out for.
Ungrateful Hearts Complain A Lot
One of the first things that happen when there’s less contentment and more ambition in our hearts is we start complaining. We’ve all been a victim of this and we know people who are so good at it. There are people that in a two-minute conversation will complain for one and a half of it. The rest is for the nice pleasantries. Actually, we probably have people in our lives reserved for complaining. Like if I feel like complaining I’ll go talk to that person. That’s crazy, isn’t it? But it is the first fruit of ungrateful hearts. It makes us feel we don’t have enough and things around us are all going wrong. It sees nothing good in anything in and around us.
A lack of contentment spreads and infects far much quicker than the truth. Actually, it makes us miss reality completely.
Sadly when this happens within a fellowship of God’s people it creates a very toxic environment. And you know what’s crazy? A lack of contentment spreads and infects far much quicker than the truth. Actually, it makes us miss reality completely. Think of Israel in the wilderness. Remember the incident of Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 12? Within no time people are asking why do these people think God only speaks through them? What makes them think they know better? And in no time we’ll have made a fellowship of complainers. How sad is that? And all because we didn’t watch our own hearts. All because we missed the amazing things God is doing around us. All because we couldn’t tame our heart desires. May the Lord help us.
Ungrateful Hearts Overanalyze Everything
Sometimes in my line of work, I give people feedback for their preaching. What amazes me is when people won’t accept they did a good job. They overanalyze what they didn’t do and what they could have done and in the end, it feels terrible. Sadly I have found myself doing this as well. Always feeling like I could have done it far better? It’s true we can all grow and do better in our ministry and service to others. But if we don’t see anything good happening perhaps we have become over obsessed with performance than with faithfulness. Perhaps we have missed how God works to assume we make it all happen when we put our best foot forward. Perhaps we are struggling with a lack of contentment.
But if we don’t see anything good happening perhaps we have become over obsessed with performance than with faithfulness.
Sadly when we don’t appreciate even the little things going well in our lives and ministries it gets worse when we hear others doing well. In the end, we are unhappy with ourselves and we are jealous of others doing well. Can you imagine that happening to the people called to share the Gospel of grace? So trapped in their performance and ungratefulness that the Gospel they share ends up not applying to them? How sad is that dear friends? That we can be calling others to run to Christ to lay down their burdens when our own are just piling up. How crazy is that? And all in the name of being better in life and Gospel ministry. God forbid!
We need the transforming power of the Gospel. I believe that the Gospel must first change us from within but that doesn’t happen as quickly as we think. It needs to keep happening.
The Remedy of the Ungrateful Heart
There’s a lot more that can be said about the price we pay for ungratefulness. But reading this I hope you feel like I do. We don’t want the features above to define our lives. We don’t want to be those who seem to have nothing going for them. Yes, we might have needs we are presenting before the Lord but if we don’t check our hearts our prayers answered or unanswered won’t fix us. We need something more than the life of our neighbour. We need the transforming power of the Gospel. I believe that the Gospel must first change us from within but that doesn’t happen as quickly as we think. It needs to keep happening. It’s so easy to assume that when we’ve had the Gospel a number of times when we’ve been Christians for long and are even doing Gospel ministry that we don’t need it as much. Well, that cannot be further from the truth. If anything I think those involved in the business of the Gospel need it more. We need to sit and ask what the free grace of God does to me now that I already believe. What lies does it challenge? What sin is it calling me to kill? What fruit of the Spirit do I need to bear in my life? What ungodly desires is it asking me to tame? I might know what it’s saying to that drunkard, to that man with a side chick, to that corrupt politician but what about me?
The ungrateful heart needs the Gospel applied in those dark corners to see more of God, appreciate others and see less of the self.
Most times the Gospel through the faithful preaching of the word will speak to our respectable sins and our hidden desires if we allow the Spirit to do his work in us. It’s sad that sometimes we miss this completely in our biblical application to think it’s for those out there. But think about this, how many books of the Bible are addressed to non-Christians? How many seem addressed to God’s people even those we think are doing well? I believe the word challenges the world and calls it to repentance but it especially calls out the good respectable sins and desires of those inside the church. The word of God applied to our hearts by the Spirit will produce Gospel love for others, Gospel joy in what God is doing in and around us, Gospel peace even in times of trouble and disappointment, Gospel kindness to stingy hearts, Gospel generosity among needy saints, Gospel faithfulness above performance, Gospel gentleness with those around us, and Gospel self-control that tames our heart desires. The ungrateful heart needs the Gospel applied in those dark corners to see more of God, appreciate others and see less of the self.
2 thoughts on “The Price of the Ungrateful Heart”
Such a great piece. Challenging indeed.
We all need the gospel to expose those dark corners of our hearts.
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Ahsante. Glad you found it helpful.