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The Rev. William Klock: “Unthankfulness”

June 25, 2008

Continuing with his series on “Respectable Sins”, the Rev. William Klock of Living Word Episcopal Church gives us a sermon on something that a lot of people truly do not see as a sin: Unthankfulness. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a besetting sin of our culture, for the “entitlement mentality” we see across all segments of our society–whether rich or poor, young or old–precludes one’s having a thankful heart. Fr. Bill, in this section, talks about the need to be thankful in our hearts, for several reasons:

It’s not that we don’t know that we should be giving God thanks for all he does for us. Our problem is that this knowledge in our heads doesn’t quite make it to our hearts. How often do we really give him thanks for our redemption? How often do we really give him thanks for dying in our place? And how often do we give him thanks for the “little” things in life? St. Paul, in speaking to the Athenians, reminded them that the very air we breathe is God given. How often do we give thanks for the skills, intelligence, training, and experience that God has given us to feed, clothe and shelter our families?

Too many of us take all these things for granted too much of the time. We gripe about the rust-bucket in the driveway, wishing we had a new car, and forget to give thanks to God for the rust-bucket that still get us to work on time. We gripe about the simple food we can afford on our budget, wishing for steak and ice cream every night, forgetting to give thanks for the bounty God has given, forgetting that there are many in the world who would be thankful for what we’ve got. We even take the redeeming death of Jesus Christ for granted much of the time. Hear me when I say, that failing to continually give God thanks has become one of our “acceptable sins.” We don’t even think of it as sin anymore. Yet St. Paul gives a description of the Spirit-filled life saying, we are to “[give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Note the words always and everything. That means that our whole lives should be ones of continually giving thanks. It’s not just a nice thing to do – it’s the moral will of God. If we fail to give him the thanks we owe, we’re guilty of sin.

It might not seem like a big deal to us. We might think that it doesn’t really do anyone any real harm, but it’s an affront and an insult to the one who created and sustains us every second of our lives. Every Sunday morning we hear Jesus’ summary of the Law. If loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the first and greatest commandment, then failure to give him thanks as a habit of life is a clear and direct violation of the greatest commandment we have been given. Think about that.

We think it doesn’t really hurt anyone, but look at St. Paul’s description in Romans 1 of the downward moral spiral of pagan humanity. That downward spiral starts this way, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). Again, think about that. Paul goes on to describe some pretty sick behaviour, but it starts with this failure to recognise what God has given and to give thanks to him. Their moral degradation was the result of God’s judgement on them as he gradually gave them over to more and more perverse forms of immorality. Not giving thanks is serious business. Is it any wonder that so many kids raised in Christians homes fall away as they get older. I’m convinced that one of the reasons is that we fail in this area of giving thanks. If our kids see us giving thanks to God in all things and for all things, it instils in them the same habit. But if we fall down here, we fail to communicate to our kids that all we have comes from God.

The “downward spiral” of Romans 1 is a fearful thing, and we see it affecting so much of our society now–and as I think Fr. Bill’s sermon makes clear, much of this is due to our lack of thankfulness to God. This is quite a sermon-please read it all.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. James permalink
    June 29, 2008 1:16 am

    Corrie Ten Boom once thanked God for the flies where she and some others were having Bible study-it kept the Nazi guards away.Now that’s faith and thankfulness for you!

  2. June 29, 2008 9:09 am

    James, thanks for sharing that. Corrie Ten Boom was a very devout believer and that story from her life truly shows that. What a role model for us!

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