What We Need
My in-laws have just completed the long and painful renovation of their home in anticipation of selling it and moving closer to their nine grandchildren in Bristol, Virginia. In doing so they were in constant communication with their realtor who was advising them on paint colors and features that she knew her buyers were looking for. Of course, the whims of buyers are constantly changing but not as much as since the advent of HGTV.
Home and Garden television (mostly home) is the cable channel dedicated to inflaming the lusts of each and every American woman. Features once almost unheard of (except at the top of the housing pyramid) like polished wood floors, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops in the kitchen AND bathrooms, have now become “must haves” for virtually every homebuyer in this country.
So my in-laws have had the unenviable task of trying to meet these expectations in the competitive Atlanta housing market. The buyers probably have never owned stainless steel appliances and have somehow survived with Formica countertops thus far, but now they have to—HAVE TO—have granite.
I think about those things I can’t seem to live without now, that I didn’t have when I was younger. I do enjoy my iPhone both for instant communication, a ready and remarkably good camera, and something to play silly games on when I’m standing in a line.
My father lived the first seven years of his life without electricity in his home and probably wouldn’t want to return to those days.
So are we being sinful for wanting granite and iPhones and electricity? Probably not. The sin we want to avoid is covetousness and ingratitude, two sides of the same coin. And it’s a sin we easily fall into.
We are being bombarded daily with alternative suggestions to our current lifestyle. We are being constantly told that what we have is not enough or the stuff we have isn’t good enough for us. And then we walk outside and we wonder why our neighbor’s car is shiny and new and our car has 200,000 miles on it. Even the rich covet because at some point they realize that money = power and one can never have enough power.
But we have been commanded against such thoughts:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Deuteronomy 5:21).
It wouldn’t be mentioned if we weren’t going to have a problem with it. The Bible and its commands are the owner’s manual seeking to prevent a problem with our spiritual engine. It is wise to seek guidance from the manufacturer who knows exactly how that machine is supposed to run and what might be causing it to leak oil.
From the horrors of Genesis three to the incredible ingratitude of the recently freed Israelites in Exodus 16 until five minutes ago when that Lexus commercial aired, we’ve been a covetous and ungrateful people. This is what the Israelites said just after they were freed from hundreds of years of slavery:
In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’
If you think you’d have responded differently then this article is just not for you.
Steps Toward Gratefulness
So what then do we do? If gratitude is the goal, what are the steps? Well we’ve been given some very good guidance by a great Friend, a daily liturgy of putting our thoughts in line with God’s and not the world around us:
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).
“Hallowed be Your name.” Starting off with an acknowledgement of the obvious and the imperative; we are to praise our God simply for who He is. That rapidly brings to mind all that He has done for us which is the best possible step in reminding us to be grateful.
“Your will be done.” It is His agenda, not ours that is important. Thus, our life is exactly how it should be because it’s where He has us. Once we acknowledge this, coveting another life seems down right foolish.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” We’re told to ask for what we need for the day, not the month, year or lifetime. Keeping our wants within the waking hours of one solitary day is very good protection against ingratitude and covetousness.
“Forgive us our debts” and “Deliver us from the evil one” are acknowledgments that even if we pray the Lord’s Prayer daily, we will fail at what it is calling us to do. So we repent and ask for help from the only One who is both willing and able to do so.
A liturgy as necessary as that morning breakfast and hot shower is needed to confront daily the ingratitude and covetousness that we all are infected with. It’s a disease that we’ve had since the garden and one that we will struggle with until we return to the garden. But we need not go it alone for we have been given a Friend to help us and a prayer to guide us along the way.
Have you found other ways to defeat ingratitude in your life? Talk to us in the comments below.