The Truth about Guilt Meditations: 33. Guilt of Blindness – of Ungratefulness
Rom 1:21 although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him
Continuing: As we continue to ponder on the ways we humans fall short of what we could be, there is an element of modern life that stands out in this respect and it is that of taking for granted what we have and failing to be grateful for it. No doubt in 2020, people living through the Covid-19 Pandemic have become aware of how much they value, but have taken for granted, their freedom. The fact of the use of ‘lockdown’ as an instrument for restraining the spread of the virus has, I suspect, awakened many to how much in the West we have the freedom to go out and about. The fact that we have cars and petrol and can drive miles is something few of us give a thought to. The parts of the not-so-well-off world, where such things for many are just dreams beyond their finances, never crosses our minds. Thus we take our cars and our affluence for granted. ‘Oh, but we have had to work hard for such things,’ we might protest, but that only goes to show how we take for granted an economy with jobs.
(I think it is also pertinent to recognize how we take for granted those in authority, a thankfulness that is sadly today so often blunted by the character assassination politics that goes on. Yet authority is God -given and we are to respect it (Rom 13:1) and be thankful for those who struggle to care for the nation or State – especially as it has been seen in 2020, a testing time where many Christians I believe fell short of God’s desires and rejected the calls of authorities to be careful – ‘in the name of freedom’ yet failing to care for the vulnerable – a very real area of guilt.).
Ungrateful: Paul focused our attention on this in particular regard to God Himself. One paraphrase verse brings our starter verse into sharp focus with, “They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such, or to thank him for what he is or does.” (JBP version) Note the latter part of that verse – “or to thank him for what he is or does.” Spiritual blindness means modern man is locked into a vision of himself only in the world, and fails to see the wonder of the Almighty One who puts meaning into life, having brought it into being. Instead they prefer to hobble mentally backwards and forwards trying to prove the impossible, that you can get something from absolutely nothing, a concept that proves the utter folly of even the greatest of human minds who have not yet found that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Prov 1:7) AND that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psa 111:10) or as the ERV put those two verses, “Knowledge begins with fear and respect for the Lord, but stubborn fools hate wisdom and refuse to learn,” and “Wisdom begins with fear and respect for the Lord.” i.e. it all starts with the way we view God. Literally everything flows from that.
Easy to say: But it is so easy to quote all these verses, but ask yourself, how often are you consciously grateful to God? ‘I’m grateful for the world we live in,’ you might respond, but I wonder how short-sighted are we about this world. I am utterly convinced that God is behind great inventions, great designs, great works of art or literature even, that He inspires such people and gives them ideas, non-Christian unbeliever though they may be. We can’t prove it and so it is a matter of faith. Years ago I had a torn retina and had to have an emergency operation (although I didn’t realize it was an emergency at the time) that lasted an hour and resulted in me having cataracts which they promptly removed. Suddenly, after fifty years of having to wear glasses my sight was brilliant. I only wear glasses for close up reading and sharpening the distance but for the first time in half a century I could see well without glasses. I didn’t see all that coming and so it came when I suddenly found half my vision gone. Two thousand years ago Jesus would have healed my sight but today through modern surgery I see well. But where did all this skill and ability come from? I suggest it came from a God who is constantly working with us to improve this fallen world, to make it better. Our modern technology isn’t an accident. It is the result of thousands of years of gradual increase in knowledge that flows through industry and economics and medicine, and who is behind it? God of course?
And So? Is your vision of this world blinded so you have a spiritual world and a material world and never the two meet? Spiritual is for Sundays; material is for the working week? If that’s the God you (vaguely) worship, you need to think of Jesus turning water into wine, feeding crowds with a few loaves and fish, bringing sight to physical bodies and so on. This is God in HIS world, God working to bless mankind who He has given five senses with which to appreciate this material world. Is this an area where we need to make serious mental adjustments to our (un)belief.
Did you know? Did you know there have been lots of studies done on thankfulness? The modern market economy and its advertising, works on creating dissatisfaction and discontent, and therefore we live in a world of discontent, which comes out into the open in politics where the apparent goal of opposition parties is to make you unhappy about what the current government is achieving. They want you to be unhappy about them so you won’t vote for them next time round. A world of discontent.
But did you know that people who express positive emotions like gratitude, happiness, hope and love, are more likely to live longer and be mentally healthier in old age. The extensive research proves it. Thankful people have more positive emotions generally. Happiness is best worked out in lasting relationships, so is that why so many people today are unhappy. God designed us to be aware and thus be grateful, He designed us to get the most happiness out of lasting relationships. The research proves it, so if we have allowed the enemy to dump us with negatives, it is time to change it, repent, and become a grateful person, become one who appreciates goods, services, experiences, as provisions from God, but doesn’t make them the foundation of a happy, contented life. Knowing Him, being grateful, appreciating the wonder of the world He has given us, and working on long-term godly relationships. There is a different world awaiting you.