There are people who are always pointing out that there are two kinds of everything. There are those who believe and those who don’t. There are those who are self-centered and those who are generous and look out for others. A recent quote from an actor in a film was, “there are two kinds of people in this world, those who like Neal Diamond and those who don’t”. Two kinds of everything in terms of people, even such a thing as gratitude comes in two flavors.
One form of gratitude was observed by a critic who said “in terms of human beings, gratitude is merely a hope for greater favors”. This, of course, isn’t gratitude at all. It would be ingratitude, favor seeking disguised as thanksgiving. It is usually showered on people of power and influence. It can even become a part of our prayers. It is a glib imitation of thanksgiving which flows very easily from our mouths.
Real, true gratitude, one writer quipped “is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it runs deep”. It usually is expressed better in what we do and how we act instead of what we say. This kind of gratitude is not so concerned about repaying those who contributed something to your life, as imitating them by extending blessings to others. When I was in my first parish, a couple had been extremely good to me. I asked them at one point how I could even thank them for all they had done for me. They told me I could best show my thankfulness by giving something to others as I passed through this short life. It was that command of Jesus “go and do likewise” that demonstrated the true seal of gratitude in a humans life. One kindness begets a hundred others. “Pass it on” should be our mantra.
In summary, we cannot pay back all the people to whom we are indebted in our live; parents, teachers, clergy, soldiers, statesman, inventors, dreamers, and grandparents. They have all built a wonderful life for us.
Of course, the one we can repay least is our Lord. The very breath we breathe is a thank you borrowed from His earth. We can however, fill our hearts with gratitude and go and bless the lives around us. The great Roman statesman Cisaro summed it up by saying, “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Pastor Hans Lillejord