rural-poverty-south-africa

Being thankful

Question: Is ingratitude a serious matter? Do you think people are thankful enough generally? Or do many people toil away with little or no expression of gratitude to encourage them?

Do you think ingratitude is a serious error? Is it a sin? Is it a serious sin? (I know we don’t usually list those who are ungrateful with ax murderers). Mind you, Paul did, sort of:

“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power. Avoid such people”  (2 Timothy 3:2).

Now, imagine you’re a Christian in Zimbabwe. When you wake up, take away the bed with mattress, clean sheets and pillows. No Serta here! Try a dirt floor with a reed mat. Look around your bedroom. Note that it is also your dining room, living room, den. OK, your home has only one room! At least that one room is not your bathroom. There is one running tap about five blocks away, shared by about 5,000 people.

You wife is lying in bed beside you. On the same floor are your five children, three cousins, your aged father. Light? It’s still dark, and there is a used candle, about an inch high.

You go outside to your “kitchen” – three stones and the embers of last night’s fire. You light the candle on those embers, and begin to boil water for tea. You use a tea bag you have used several times before. You warm up a cast iron pot of corn (maize) meal to go with your tea.

Your one room house is made of concrete block, no paint, and a corrugated iron roof that leaks in the rainy season. There are no windows, and the door is covered by a tattered blanket.

You have no trouble choosing what clothes to wear. You have one pair of trousers, one shirt, and a pair of worn sandals. You are the only one in your family who owns a pair of shoes!

You need to go to work. You don’t go to your garage to get your car. You have no car. And bus tickets are prohibitively expensive. That’s why you walk twelve miles to work before daylight. You can’t be late – there must be ten thousand men who would like your job!

At the railroad station you spend twelve hours loading and unloading cement from huge dump trucks to the freight train. Your back hurts, and so do your knees. You are fifty-five years old, and have been doing this kind of hard labor all your life, and were glad to do it. But you’re not getting any younger, and wonder when the young Turks will push you aside.

This month you will earn about $100. Your wife earns about $50 more selling vegetables door to door, bearing the merchandise in a big basket over 30 lbs. on her head, a baby on her back. You need to pay school fees ($10 per kid, now that’s 6 school-age kids counting the cousins).

But you have some good things in your life, too: You’re a Christian. You were converted two years ago. Your second grade education means you can barely read your Bible (kindly given by a visiting preacher from the US), so you get your oldest boy, fifteen, to read it to you by candlelight. You’re so tired, however, from the long day’s work that you usually fall asleep during the reading.

The church meets on Sundays, and worship takes about four hours. You listen keenly to the sermon, committing everything you can to memory. You sing. You love to sing hymns. You and the preacher (now your best friend) visit the sick and elderly bringing what was given at the collection – mangoes, sugar, eggs – and you distribute these items to these people.

You are so grateful you found Jesus Christ. What if you had died before meeting the preacher and hearing his lessons? What if he had chosen to preach in a village 100 miles away, and not yours?

Your son, who is very bright, wants to go to a preacher training school 400 miles away. You are so proud. But he will need a tie and shirt with collar. Shoes, too. There is an annual deposit of $50. The church has promised to pay half of it …

So, dear reader, what were you ungrateful for?

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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2 thoughts on “Being thankful

  1. This message truly reminds those of us in the United States of the abundance of “things: in our lives. Many of us would have a hard time adjusting to the situations presented in this article. We should wonder just how much of anything we really need. How many pairs of shoes do we need? How many shirts do we need ?Dresses? Hats? How much food do we
    need? Looking at out waste bins, garbage bins, how much of what we disposed was not actually used?

    Perhaps we need to learn again our purpose life, what out mission should be?

    Disturbing, yet enlightening. May we be moved to serve others.

    B.Abney

  2. I thank GOD for this lesson it should be read my all ( the whole world) especially those in the Lord’s church. May GOD bless you Brother to keep writing in such a way to touch our hearts to see what we been over looking. Glory be to GOD I needed this lesson. May the love of GOD continue to be with you my brother .

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