If you want to understand what it means to be grateful, consider the aliens–both the illegal and legal–who immigrate to a wealthy country such as Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain and other EU countries along with Canada and the U.S.
These immigrants don’t take for granted the abundance and blessings of freedom to establish one’s family, to work or to live with true hope for the future!
By contrast, the citizens who were born into and have grown up with this unparalleled abundance are not always so attuned to what they have. If fact, so familiar are most of us with all these things, that we simply take them for granted.
In the scope of history, only the last several decades have witnessed a world and a time in which so many nations have flourished so remarkably!
There is a danger in times such as these. Jesus Christ clearly prophesied of a complacent, sleepy-eyed time when people would be so self-absorbed that they just wouldn’t see things realistically: “‘But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be'” (Matthew 24:37-39).
Paul strongly warns all of us who claim to be Christians against the ever-present danger of just taking things for granted: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
We can test ourselves in this regard. Do we take our calling for granted, or are we maintaining an attitude of “first love” (compare Revelation 2:4)? Do we remember the time when we met and then married our mates–and do we still reflect that incredibly special relationship (compare Malachi 2:13-16)? When our children were born, we cared for them at great personal sacrifice–do we, as parents, continue in that selfless love for our own (compare Luke 15:31)? Do we remember what a tremendous discovery it was to meet brethren who believed as we did (compare Luke 15:7)?
We must not take what we have for granted! Jesus Christ certainly did not! Rather, He established and maintained a constant relationship with God. He viewed everything through the will of God. We find His own testimony in this regard: “‘I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me'” (John 5:30).
For all of us who have been called to God’s way and who have been given the knowledge of the truth, there looms the peril of becoming lackadaisical and a bit too familiar–especially in times and circumstances of physical abundance. However, we must not allow this approach in our own lives. We must become fervent in seeking God’s will, and a first step in this process is to no longer take things for granted!