Base Ingratitude

The second sin we are guilty of is refusing to glorify (worship) God in spite of knowing about God.

Study of Romans as given by Dr. James Montgomery Boice: Romans 1:21

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Even though many bibles start verse 21 as a different paragraph, they are still tied together. In verse 20 Paul give a description of the human race and furthers that description in verse 21. It is in verse 21 that we find two more things which everyone is guilty of. The first item, found in verse 20 is the sin of suppressing the truth about God. The second sin we are guilty of is refusing to glorify (worship) God in spite of knowing about God. The third sin we are guilty of is forgetting to be thankful. One sin leads to another. If we refuse to know God then how can we follow through with worshiping and thanking God? To know God is to know ourselves as being created by God and recognizing all there we see and have is from God.

John Milton speaks of the term “base ingratitude” in his mask “Comus”. William Shakespeare wrote, “Blow, blow thou winter wind; thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude” (As You Like It, Act 2, Scene7 7). Fyodor Dostoyevsky said of man, “If he is not stupid, he is monstrously ungrateful! Phenomenally ungrateful. In fact, I believe that the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped.” (Fyodor Dostoevsky, “Notes from Underground”)

No Praise, No Glory

  1. There is a connection between these failures.
  2. To understand this ingratitude we need to understand that “we have not glorified God”.
  3. Two Greek words for glory
    1. dokeo (verb)
      1. Means to “to appear” or “to seem”
    2. doxa (noun)

      1. We get the word doxology originally from this Greek word.
      2. Means “an opinion”. A person’s opinion of someone or something is how that person or thing appears to the one observing it.
      3. Orthodox = straight or correct opinion.
      4. heterodox = different or wrong opinion.
      5. paradox = contrary or irreconcilable opinion.
    3. At one time dokeo and doxa was used for a good or bad opinion of someone. It eventually came to mean only a good opinion.
    4. The noun came to mean “praise” or “honor” due to one.
    5. The verb referred to rendering honor to an individual.
    6. Kings possessed “glory” because they merited the praise of their subjects.
    7. The word is used in Psalm 24 which speaks of God as the King of Glory.
  4. Who can glorify God? Only one who has a right opinion of him. One who knows God and properly appreciates God’s attributes.
  5. The worship of God, the praise of God, and the giving of glory to God are identical.
  6. This is what Paul has said man has done.

    1. We fail to worship or glorify God because we have surpressed the truth about God.
    2. We reject what God has plainly made know because we do not like where the truth about God leads us.
    3. We do not like God’s
      1. Sovereignty, because God’s sovereignty negates our autonomy.
      2. Holiness, because God’s oliness opposes and condemns our sin.
      3. Omniscience, becuase his omniscience terrifies because we are know, not hidden. We fear exposure.
      4. Immutability, because we know God does not change. There is no time where we will not live under his sovereign rule, not be known by him, and not be under his condemnation for our sin.

Not Thankful

  1. In Two Minds by Os Guinnes
    1. Doubt is not unbelief, but a middle place between faith and unbelief.
    2. If we doubt for very long we will movie either to unbelief of a stronger faith.
    3. Which way we move depends on how we deal with what unsettles us.
    4. Causes of our unsetteling:
      1. Ingratitude
      2. Faulty view of God
      3. Weak foundations
      4. Lack of commitment
      5. Lack of growth
      6. Unruly emotions
      7. Fearing to believe
    5. These are known as 7 families of doubt according to Guinness
  2. Why is ingratitude so dangerous? Because it is based upon a willful unawareness of the most basic facts bout God and upon our lack of a proper relationship to him.
  3. Romans 1:18-20 makes it clear that God is the cause of who we are, and everything we see. If we fail to be grateful for this, it is because we are not really acknowledging him or are rejecting a proper relationship to him.

Remember and Give Thanks

  1. Guiness, “The man or woman of faith is the one who gives thanks. Unbelief, on the other hand, has a short and ungrateful memory.”
  2. A perfect example of ingratitude and its results would be the people of Israel exiting from Egypt. They were given everything, but were still ungrateful. Their ingratitude led to rebellion and the pursuit of idols.
  3. Moses wrote aobut giving thanks in Exodus 15:1-2,11.
  4. David was strong with giving thanks in Psalms 35:18 and in Psalms 206, 107, 118, 136.
  5. After Jesus healed the 10 and only one came back to give thanks this was his respone. “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18)
  6. In Philipians Paul reminds of the imporatance of giving thanks to God. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
  7. Thankfulness is the mark of those who truly know God–even though we sometimes forget to be thankful.
  8. Ingratitude, by contrast, is the mark of those who repress the truth about him.

Are We Thankful?

  1. Two questions to ask ourselves
    1. Are we who know God thankful?
    2. Do we express our thanks verbally?
  2. Greek word for prayer is eucharisteo, from which is derived the liturgical word Eucharist. Eucharist is the Lord’s Super which refers to that aspect of communion that involved thanksgiving to God for Christ’s atoning death.
  3. Latin word for prayer is gratia, from which we derive the French and English word grace. It has two meanings:
    1. God’s “unmerited favor.”
    2. Thanksgiving, the meaning we retain when we speak of saying “grace” before a meal.
  4. It is significant that the cheif element in the opening of the heart of man to God in prayer is gratitude.
  5. Acronym for the order we should pray is ACTS
    1. Adoration
    2. Confession
    3. Thanksgiving
    4. Supplication
  6. If we learn to thank God for who ie is and for his many blesings, we inevitable move from doubt to faith, rather than from doubt to even geater rebellion.

Personal Reflection

So much to say and so little space and time to say it in on
this topic.  I think though I want to focus in on one area that might surprise
you.  It is probably one of the most overlooked areas that we should give
things to God in.  I’m not going to talk about giving thanks to God for
material possessions, good health, good marriage, good children, stable job,
etc.  Although these are areas we should give thanks to God for, I’m talking
about giving thanks to God for the bad times in our lives.  Giving thanks to
God for our suffering also.  How easy it is to give thanks to God for all the
good stuff in our lives, even though we forget to do that sometimes, but to
give thanks for all the suffering is most difficult.  Who wants to give thanks
for suffering?  Suffering is not fun, it’s not considered something to be
thankful for by many.  In the above outline Boice mentions that the true mark
of someone who knows God is thankfulness.  I’d like to add on “especially those
who thank God for suffering”.  So the questions begs itself, why give thanks to
God for suffering?  I’m glad you asked.

After asking this question of why I should give thanks for
suffering I was led on a journey to find an answer.  What I found was not only
humbling, but brought me to a greater realization of the mercy and grace of
God, how great God’s love for us was.  Let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 1 to
begin to answer the question of why we should give thanks for suffering. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “3Praise be to the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,4who
comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  We suffer so that we
can comfort those who are suffering.  There will come a time, due to the
abundance of suffering in this world, when we who have been comforted by the
grace of God will be able to comfort those who need comfort.  It might be a
family member, a coworker, a friend, even a stranger that will be in need of
comfort for some tragedy that has happened in his or her life.  This is an
opportunity to show compassion and love for your neighbor as everyone is our
neighbor.  Suffering not only produces perseverance, but it should also produce
a heart of compassion for the Christian.  Give thanks for that trial as it may
provide an opportunity to bring the gospel to another through compassion.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 “8We do not want you to be
uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. 
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we
despaired even of life.  9Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence
of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” 
Why give thanks for suffering?  So that we learn to rely on God for all
things.  When we give thanks for what we have, even for the life we have, we
recognize that God gives us everything we have.  When we give thanks for
suffering, we recognize the sovereignty of God and where our comfort comes
from.  We transform our reliance on ourselves and others over to a reliance on God,
where it belongs, for all things. 

2 Corinthians 1:11  “11as you help us by your
prayers.  Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted
us in answer to the prayers of many.”  When others see the power of God at work
through suffering they witness the gospel in action.  When we give thanks for
suffering, those who witness our behavior and attitude, while still giving
thanks, witness a powerful message of the comfort of God.  All three of the
versus are linked together through the idea of giving thanks for suffering.  We
become grateful for the comfort, we come to rely on God, and we become a
witness to the gospel and the power of God to help us through life’s
difficulties.  If these aren’t reasons enough to give thanks to God for
suffering I don’t know what is.  Just in case they aren’t thought, let’s look
at a couple more versus from God’s faithful word.

James 1:2-4 “2Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the
testing of your faith develops perseverance.  4Perseverance must
finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 
If there is anything that will test our faith it’s suffering.  How hard it is
to remain faithful, relying on God, when we face trials.  Trials can come in
the form of illness, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, etc.  We often
question the love of God and why he would let this happen to us, after all we
are “Christian”.  The suffering that God allows in our life is to strengthen
our faith.  Faith is only strengthened when we learn to persevere, this
includes persevering through the tough times in life.  I think about those who
have lost their lives for the sake of Christ.  They did not buckle under the
pressure to renounce Christ, but instead followed Christ even unto death.  I am
both encouraged by their perseverance and shamed by my lack of such perseverance. 
Give thanks for suffering because it produces perseverance through the testing
of faith.  In the end we can say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished
the race, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7.  We then hope to hear these
words from Christ, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I’d like to close with a 1 Peter 1:6-7 “6In this
you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer
grief in all kinds of trials.  7These have come so that your faith–of
greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–, may be
proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is
revealed.”  Our sufferings bring us to a genuine faith, a true faith.  It
flushes out the falseness in our heart and produces a true faith.  We learn to
rely on others, to open our lives up to others as we come to need them to get
through the tough times in life.  We come to realize that we are not created to
live life in solitude and we are not meant to suffer in solitude.  We are made
to live a life of community, to life a life of being helped and helping
others.  When we share our burdens and suffering we not only build our faith,
but those who shared in this dark time in life are encouraged.  They are
encouraged by seeing the act of a loving God, and it strengthens their faith
also.  Suffering will not only test your faith, but it will test the faith of
those sharing in that suffering.  Those who share in that suffering will also
share in that glorious moment when suffering is overcome, does this remind you
of anything.  As we share in the sufferings of Christ we also share in his
resurrection.  Give thanks for your sufferings, surround yourself with people
who will help to carry that burden, and let your faith be refined through

Other Resources (these are sources cited in Boice’s original commentary from which the outline above is compiled)

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