The Common Sin of Ungratefulness

I’m grateful that Thanksgiving Day is still a national holiday in spite of those who are attempting to turn it into “Turkey Day.” Being thankful is one of our most powerful weapons, yet we don’t realize it. Instead, we become crippled and weakened to the point where the enemy has direct access to our souls.


Photo Credit: jennie-o

What is ungratefulness? It is when we express dissatisfaction about anything. Anything. But let me take this a step further…It is when we feel dissatisfied about anything. Whether we express it or not. A person who hates someone else may not express his hatred, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less real. You cannot feel frustrated or unsatisfied without being ungrateful.


Since I believe the God of the Bible is the same God I’m serving today, I know He hates murmuring and complaining. God HATES ungratefulness. It’s a sin.


Take a minute to read this part of the story in Numbers 21: 4-6:


“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread. So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.”


I don’t know what you think, but this seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? I mean…sending poisonous snakes and people dying because of ungratefulness? Do you know why this seems so harsh to us? It’s because we don’t recognize murmuring and ungratefulness for what it is. A sin. Dark, ugly, and consequential sin. And just as the children of Israel faced consequences of their ungratefulness, we can be sure God hates it as much today, and we’ll face our own consequences of this sin. The children of Israel maybe didn’t have what they wanted, but they had everything they needed.


As I reflect over my life (and even just my day!) I am appalled at the role this sin has played in my life. How many times have I expressed dissatisfaction and ungratefulness? And if I only had an ungrateful thought, it was still ungratefulness. How many times have I sighed deeply in frustration? How often do I entertain negative thoughts about a situation rather than thinking on the positive and uplifting things?


Just this morning, I felt a bit discouraged as I realized that, although it’s been a year since we repainted our downstairs, I still haven’t found the time to add wall hangings or decor in several of the rooms. Since we’re gone seven months each year in our ministry travels, it’s difficult for me to find the time for these home projects I enjoy so much.


As I reflected and prayed, God helped me to realize that the issue isn’t really our full schedule, (although we do need to be intentional about managing schedules wisely) but it’s the matter of my heart. If I’m not able to be grateful where I am today, I will never find gratefulness in the future. Gratefulness is seeing the grace and blessings of God, regardless of the events in my day. 


Photo Credit: Brianna Mullett


Just as the children of Israel, we begin to complain and become ungrateful when we focus on what we don’t have instead of on what we’ve been blessed with. We can only begin to be grateful after we give up what we believe we’re entitled to have. 


Take a hard look at your life and at our nation. Griping, murmuring, and complaining is prevalent in our world. A pastime even. We complain when it’s hot. We complain when it’s cold. Grumble when it snows or rains. Ungratefulness is so common that we fail to even recognize it any more. 


My family all knows I don’t enjoy being cold. And it can be hard not to express my displeasure when I am. So I asked God to show me how I can replace my negative attitude, even in this area. And He did. When I began to shiver and the negative thoughts started to come, He gently reminded me to focus on my blessings. I began thanking Him for my long sleeves, warm boots, quick access to a warm drink, and the privilege of simply starting our van and turning a knob to have warm heat in just a few minutes. My friend, we are graced with countless blessings, that for most of history, were not even imagined. Yet, we can be some of the most ungrateful people. Myself included.


What do you think our ancestors would think about our generation of complainers? We now have access to travel to other countries in a matter of hours, houses that are equipped with heat or air at the tap of a button. We have knowledge at our fingertips, hot and cold running water and grocery stores where we buy food and prepare it in a matter of a few hours. We have quick access to beautifully made clothes and now, thanks to Amazon Prime, we can order anything in the comfort of our home and get it shipped to our door a day or two later. But do these things actually make us happy? We’ll never be happy unless we exchange the art of complaining with the art of gratefulness.


Gratitude is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes and the more power it gives to continue using it. Muscles don’t become stronger on their own. They need to be used and developed. Body builders have strategic plan to strengthen and grow their muscles. The same should be true in our lives. We need to practice giving thanks until we become grateful. 


So what is your plan? We need a plan to conquer this spirit of complaining. I encourage you to keep a gratitude journal where you daily make a conscious decision to record the blessings you’ve been taking for granted. I’ve asked my family to keep me accountable as well. When my little girls complain, I’ve been asking them to tell me several things in that situation that they are grateful for, and I want my family to keep me accountable in this same way.


Photo Credit: Alisha Mullett

Gratefulness is the key to a rich, full life. It helps us to recognize that what we have is more than enough. 


Have you been looking at life’s circumstances through grateful eyes? Or are you often too busy and don’t take the time to express your gratefulness to God or others?  Do you have a complaining attitude and express negative thoughts? Does your sighing and body language express a grateful spirit or do you also struggle with this common sin of ungratefulness? You may not have everything you want, but you probably have everything you need. 


~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)


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