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  • Patrick Berney

The Risk of Being Ungrateful

“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh” (the Lord will provide."

Genesis 22:14

Image Credit: Wix


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This coming week in the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a time that we reflect on the past year and everything God has blessed us. Though this year has been more challenging than most for a lot of people, we all still have many things that we can be grateful for. It is with that in mind that I write this week's devotional.


Genesis 22 contains a story that anyone familiar with Bible knows. It is the story of God

asking His faithful servant Abraham to offer his son as a burnt sacrifice to God. The story begins with God’s instructions to Abraham, and without any hesitation that we can see, Abraham begins his journey simply to obey God.


As the readers of this story, we would be lead to believe that Abraham thought the whole time that he would really have to go through with sacrificing his son, if it wasn’t for the question that Isaac asks him in verse 7.


In that verse Isaac asks him where the lamb is for the offering. Isaac responds to his son by saying, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”


No doubt Abraham was concerned. Despite Abraham’s declaration of faith in God’s

provision, there were probably still lingering questions.


Why would God ask this from me? When is he going to provide a substitute for my son? Isn’t everything God promised me dependent on my son living and bringing up his own children?


Abraham continues in obedience to God all the way to the end. Abraham prepares

everything, binds his son, and just as he is about to deliver the fatal blow to his son, the Angel of the Lord calls out to Abraham from heaven and stops him. It is at that moment the Abraham looks and sees a ram caught in a thicket, God’s provision for Abraham.


You may be asking what this somewhat dark story in the Bible has to teach us about

gratefulness.


Most people use this story as an illustration of Abraham’s great faith. Though this story does show us Abraham’s great faith in God, it is the specific characteristic of God that Abraham had faith in that is so moving in this story.


Abraham had faith in God’s ability to be a provider for him. At this point in Abraham’s life he had already become a very prosperous man. By the standards of that day Abraham was a rich man. Abraham was also a powerful man; he had many servants working for him.


It would be easy for someone in Abraham’s position to look at everything they had and think that they had accomplished all of these things themselves. Yet, when Abraham was faced with a situation where he needed something he had no ability to provide for himself, he looked to God to be his provider.


So, what do we risk by being ungrateful?


1. The Risk of Depending on Ourselves

We will all be faced with situations in our life that can’t be fixed with money (or we don’t have enough money to fix it). We will all have times where our own abilities fall short of what the situation calls for. We will all have situations where time has run out, and we need an answer now, but we can’t get that answer quick enough. When we are not in the habit of being grateful to God, we risk looking to ourselves or even other’s in our times of desperate need when no one can meet the need except God. However, when we see God as our provider, and not ourselves, we know that every need we have will be taken care of.


2. The Risk of Selfishness

To Abraham, Isaac was more than a son. Isaac was the promise of God to Abraham, a promise to change Abraham and his family from just a group of shepherds into a great nation. What had Abraham done to deserve such a promise? What had Abraham done to deserve to be blessed so much by God? The answer is “nothing”.


If Abraham thought that he had earned everything he had, he would risk being unwilling to give up his son. In fact, he probably would have been offended by God even making such a demand. His attitude would have been “I earned this. I deserve to have this.” You can usually measure a person’s level of gratefulness by the amount they are willing to give.


I’ve never met a truly grateful person who is also unwilling to give some of what they have to someone in need. Usually, the most selfish people are also those that are the most ungrateful and are always unsatisfied with what they have.



3. The Risk of Missing God’s Blessings

Many Bible readers know the promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 12, however, because of Abraham’s obedience to God in chapter 22, God expands his promise to Abraham even further. In Genesis 12 God promises Abraham that he would make him a great nation.


In Genesis 22 God promises to make that nation so vast that they would be like the stars of heaven, so vast that they wouldn’t even be able to be numbered.


In Genesis 22 God also promises victory over their enemies by saying that his seed will possess the gates of their enemies, a promise not even found in Genesis 12.


In Genesis 12 God promises to bless the families of the earth through Abraham, but in Genesis 22 God promises to also bless the nations of the earth through Abraham. Abraham was already blessed by the promise in chapter 12, but because of Abraham’s gratefulness which lead to his willingness to obey in chapter 22 he was blessed even more.


Conclusion

Abraham was a man of faith, but he was also a man of immense gratitude. As we take the time this coming week to reflect on everything we have to be grateful for let’s all remember that Jehovah-Jireh is not just the name of a place in the Middle East or a title Abraham gave to God, but the Lord is the provider for every one of us. All of our gratitude should be directed at Almighty God.


Quick Prayer

Lord, I recognize that it is only because of you I have anything good in my life. Whether it is the roof over my head, the food on my table, the cloths on my back, or the family and friends I have, I am unworthy of any of it and it is all a blessing from you that I did not earn myself. I want to take the time to say thank you for all these blessings and ask that you keep my heart humble and grateful, in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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