I have found something very interesting through the years of my counseling experiences and that is, people in causes that are self defeating or cause chaos to society are started, run and staffed by people who are very ungrateful ( have not seen any study on this subject, just my observations). Ingratitude produces a firm desire to destroy and cause havoc to others out of jealousy or contempt or for whatever reason. Ungrateful people hate and desire to destroy. For example when I was involved with “operation rescue” in the 80’s we would go to abortion clinics to pray and hand out literature showing pictures of unborn fetus as a “proof” for their humanity, showing it as a person. But such people who perform abortions or work with those who carry them out do not see the humanity of the unborn. They demonize or rationalize that a fetus is like a tumor; even though the biological evidences clearly show it is fully human. While rational and honest even some grateful people will think through this issue and say it is human but the mothers’ rights supercede its rights (which is flawed logic and I strongly disagree with). The same arguments and rational were used by Nazi Germany to show the Jewish people as inhuman and disserving of extermination. And having met some of the doctors who experimented on the Jews and researched this (“Logotherapy Center” run by holocaust survivor Victor Frankel in San Jose in the early 80’s, a goldmine for such research!), I found these people were extremely ungrateful in their character makeup and they also had entitlement issues. Ingratitude can produce great amounts of evil and rationalize a lie as a truth. The ingratitude mindset is extremely dangerous personally as a Christian, because it stagnates us, we will never realize what we have, nor will we be able to grow in faith or worship God. And if we remain in this mindset we may even become evil in our thinking and eventually in our actions. It is essential that this discipline is pursued for the sake of contentment and for the sake of humanity.
Be aware, when we become infected with these age-old diseases of ingratitude, ungratefulness, thanklessness that leads to apathy, envy, anger, lust, misplaced ambition, greed, aloofness and bitterness, it will blockade the growth in our relationship with Christ and cut us off from the character and reflection of Christ to the world. It has been said we cannot control our circumstance, but we can control our attitude. And what I have found from Scripture backed up by my personal experiences and research is if we forget who we are in Christ, we will actually dismiss God from our life and replace Him with the god of our self and ingratitude.
The reason why the Discipline of Gratitude is a discipline is because it comes easy theoretically and actually, all we have to do is recognize Christ and His work in our lives, but the “practice” seems to come hard, we have to work at it. To cover ourselves in the call and blessings that Christ has for us should be easy, He says so, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:29-30). Christ actually offers to you His love in place of His wrath. Grace takes the Law off our shoulders when we turn to Him, and away from all that is false, this means freedom (Jer. 6: 13-20; 27:2; Gal. 5:1; 1 Cor. 1:26-31)! But we complicate it, so we must discipline our focus and work at it.
Take this subject seriously as a church growth consultant and a pastor I have seen lives destroyed as well as churches by ingratitude! A church that allows the ungrateful Christian to run amok will cause enormous damage that may never be repaired. They will quickly turn to legalism and or connive their ill begotten feelings and agendas to manipulate others and in turn produce the various forms of discontentment toward others. Because they are unwilling to see the love that Christ has for them, and then they are unable to give it out to others. They do not see the appreciation from others or even from God, so the focus is entitlement or the poor me attitude. And this attitude will reciprocate discontentment in a very powerful and focused way. And if you want your Christian walk disarmed and muted, be ungrateful and if you want your church destroyed all you need to do is allow people who are ingrates to be in leadership and soon your pews will be empty or you will be a festering haven for ingrates who fuel off one another. Ingratitude is a serious disease that must be cut out like malignant cancer, healed the sowing of love and serious counseling and awareness of Christ. If you or another person refuses to heal, then you must remove yourself from others until you are able to heal, forgive and get help. If you are in leadership it is essential to help these people at the same time keep them away from others until they are able to be people of gratitude. If they refuse, they need to be under church discipline and be cut off from the rest of the flock, if necessary, until healing and forgiveness takes place. If not they will bring their disease to others!