Taking Things with Gratitude

by Derrick G. Jeter

It’s the way she was brought up, I suppose, but the quantity and quality of food that poured forth from my mother’s little kitchen was staggering to behold . . . and to eat. While we were never rich, I never went to bed without a bellyful of delicious food (well, except the night my mother made me eat lima beans and I threw up in my plate, but that’s another story).

 

Food isn’t just a necessity for life in my family; it is a celebration of life, especially at Thanksgiving. We always have turkey, ham, dressing and giblet gravy, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli rice casserole, deviled eggs, and homemade rolls. There is a salad and a relish tray full of pickles, olives, and stuffed celery. And the desserts, gut-splitting! You could have your fill of homemade cherry, chocolate, pecan, and lemon meringue pies and red velvet and chocolate cakes.

 

Makes your mouth water just thinking about it, doesn’t it?

 

All this food is more than just a celebration of eating or a demonstration of my mother’s love; it is a gastronomical expression of gratitude for God’s blessings! As family and friends hold hands around the table to say grace, the sight and smell of the food remind me once again that “the chief idea of my life” should be “taking things with gratitude, and not taking things for granted.”1

 

It’s easy to take blessings for granted. That’s why we need to be reminded that humility is the key to thankfulness. David admonished: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, / And forget none of His benefits” (Psalm 103:2). In other words, take things with gratitude. The proud take things for granted and are ungrateful. Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus expressed such disappointment in those who failed to say “thank you” for God’s blessings? Because ungratefulness reveals a callousness of heart that leaves deeper scars than any disease.

 

Luke 17:11–18 describes one situation where Jesus encountered such callousness. On His way to Jerusalem, where He would die at the hands of thankless men, Jesus was met by ten men who had leprosy. He instructed them to go to the priests, as required by the Law for those who had been cleansed (see Leviticus 14:1–32). On their way, Jesus healed them. Yet only one of the men rushed back in gratitude. “Were there not ten cleansed?” Jesus asked. “But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this [Samaritan]” (Luke 17:17–18)?

 

The voice of gratitude whispers humility, but the silence of ingratitude shouts pride.

 

Which will you be—not just at Thanksgiving but every day—the one or the nine? I pray you will be the one and will make it the chief idea of your life not to take things for granted but to take everything with gratitude—including your lima beans.

 

1. G. K. Chesterton, The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 325.

 

Taken from Derrick G. Jeter, “Taking Things with Gratitude,” Insights (November 2008): 3. Copyright © 2008 by Insight for Living. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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