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Friday, November 25, 2011

The Gratitude Problem

Every blessed person might relate: the knowledge of blessing, the deportment of privilege, the transient adventure of real hope; yet, the presence of complaint, the attitude of lack, the compromise of comparison. Thankfulness and complaint coexist.

There is indeed a gratitude problem and it sweeps the globe to everywhere there is material blessing. We fully know we’re blessed, but gratitude is still not natural.

The desperately poor are not occasioned by such a problem; theirs is of real lack. Real lack harbours gratitude for the very breath of life.

Classic Double-Mindedness

The devil gets us no better way than by a volley of goodness; a complicit array of abundance that spoils us.

When we feast on a diet so rich in material nutrients—such as the case in our Western environments—at times there is the diminishment in our uptake of spiritual nutrients.

There are just too many options and spiritual veracity is lost in the dilution of it all.

It would be more accurate to say, rather than double-mindedness, myriad-mindedness; for when we are marooned far from gratitude in the opulent dining hall of materialism, there is a war where it appears more than two sides are fighting. We wage a spiritual war with the flesh, but the flesh is armed—these times—with detachments of bazooka-wielding gifts of material abundance. Unless we look past the material we shall be captured by it; there, into the abyss of the spoiled spirit, we go.

Double-mindedness, as James 1:7-8 instructs, reconciles no sense of blessing as we are caught in the intrigues of spiritual battle against a foe that seduces us at a level of our minds and hearts.

Gratitude can only be afforded the single-minded.

Now we can begin to see just the start of the problem; how many people are skilfully or intentionally single-minded on matters of virtue? Too many spiritual people are battle weary at the point of dilution, though their outer veneer shows it not. Who cannot relate?

Spiritual Warfare Pits Dilution Against Gratitude

What an irony this is!

Identification of a great many warring things is by continual spiritual designation. Perhaps it’s a glowing spiritual irony that this cold war within human beings is only understood, as the constant demon it is, when we come face-to-face with the truth about ourselves.

The spiritual warfare—our God-led spirits against our flesh—is uniquely insidious and it pits dilution, by the extravagance of too many blessings to handle, against the potent simplicity in gratitude. The deception renders the potent, impotent.

The war within is harmonised, a moment at the time, as we reflect on the few things we have rather than on the vast number of things we don’t; those we plan for or covet, still not quite content.

Not much dilution can occur, though, when the mind is steadfast toward a noble goal.


Gratitude is a blessed thing, only limited in the dilution of our spiritual joy by an over-abundance of material blessing. It is better, by far, to have less than more. Better still to give away what is not needed—to, as Jim Elliot said, give away what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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