Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of all. It highlights the home and family. It is a time of quiet reflection upon the past and an annual reminder that God has ever been so faithful to us.
It is also a good time to examine ourselves and see if our attitude is as it should be. A good attitude begins with gratitude to God. Most of us are fond of doing our share of complaining, griping, and grumbling. With that kind of attitude, we probably see few blessings. Why? Because our attention is focused on the negative rather than the positive.
Some people fail to see how serious such a negative disposition can be upon their home, upon their work environment, and certainly upon the local church. That we might see the seriousness of such, take a look at the following verses:
“And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched. And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the Lord burnt among them” (Num. 11:1-3).
Here is a striking example of God*s disapproval of the grumblers and fault-finders. God had blessed them by sending them a great leader in Moses, by bringing them out of the bondage of Egypt, by providentially caring for them, and leading them this far on the way to Canaan. But they had a bad and sinful attitude. How often do the problems of the present, blind us to the blessings of the present?
Notice what they had said in Exodus 16:3, “And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Sitting by the flesh pots, eating bread to the full hardly seems to be a fitting description of them suffering as slaves under hard taskmasters. But this is typical of murmurers and grumblers. They will often portray present things in the worst possible light and portray past things in the best possible light. In the Israelite complainers, we see how distorted their perspective was. How often do the problems of the present, blind us to the problems of the past? How is your perspective? Are you often guilty of doing something similar?
Psalm 106:24-25 lists three sins that kept the Israelites in the wilderness and out the Promised land for many years. “Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord.” They despised the blessings of the promised land. They did not believe God*s word that all would be well there. They did not heed God*s voice of direction. Instead, they chose to sat in their tents and complain. As a result, God led them around in circles in the wilderness. God wanted to bless His people, but their bad attitude would not let Him. As a result, God did not allow most of that generation to enter the land.
What do we learn? We see that grumblers have a negative effect on themselves, on God*s people, and even on God. Are we impoverishing ourselves when God is longing to bless us with His best, but cannot due to our terrible attitude? Think about this: if our words of complaint and grumbling over the past eleven months of 2004 were placed alongside our expressions of gratitude to God and others, how truly thankful would we appear?
Remember the words of Paul in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
Someone has written:
“When things go wrong, I would not be a grumbler,
Complaining, seeing everything as grim:
For when I think of how the Lord has blessed me,
I cannot help but give my praise to Him.”
Make no mistake about it, a good attitude begins with gratitude to God.
— Mike McDaniel