If you look closely, you will notice a historical pattern in Western civilization. God blesses certain people who are hardworking, but who are also humble and thankful and depend on Him in their day-to-day living. Over time, they experience a certain degree of abundance and wealth.
A descent into the slippery slope of the abyss
After time passes, these people slowly begin to take credit for all of their prosperity. Their hearts turn to pride and they forget about God. Finally, they descend the slippery slope into the abyss.
In the Old Testament, Moses said that arrogance is looking at your life, your abilities, and your achievements, and thinking in your heart that it is your strength, your power, and your ability that has led to all of your success. Humility helps you to recognize that all you are and all you have is a gift from God and a result of other people contributing to your life.
In his book, The Case for Character, Drayton Nabers provides remarkable insight into the humble life, saying,
“…humility is a form of wisdom. It is thinking clearly. It is simply being realistic. It is knowing who really deserves the credit and the glory for what we do.”
No one ever gave me anything
There is a wonderful true story along these same lines in Stephen K. Scott’s inspirational, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: (listen to the entire audio book here)
My former church pastor, Dr. Jim Borror, while visiting a church in the Northwest, was asked by a woman to meet with her husband, a multimillionaire entrepreneur with thousands of employees. Although this man had tens of millions of dollars and everything money could buy, he was unhappy, bitter, and cantankerous. No one liked being around him, and contention and strife followed him wherever he went. He was disliked by his employees and even his children. His wife barely tolerated him.
When he met the man, Dr. Borror listened to him talk about his accomplishments and quickly realized that pride ruled this man’s heart and mind. He claimed he had single-handedly built his company from scratch. Even his parents hadn’t given him a dime. He had worked his way through college.
Jim said, “So you did everything by yourself.”
“Yep,” the man replied.
Jim repeated, “No one ever gave you anything.”
So Jim asked, “Who changed your diapers? Who fed you as a baby? Who taught you how to read and write? Who gave you jobs that enabled you to work your way through college? Who gave you your first job after college? Who serves food in your company’s cafeteria? Who cleans the toilets in your company’s rest rooms?” The man hung his head in shame. Moments later, with tears in his eyes, he said, “Now that I think about it, I haven’t accomplished anything by myself. Without the kindness and efforts of others, I probably wouldn’t have anything.” Jim nodded and asked, “Don’t you think they deserve a little thanks?”
That man’s heart was transformed, seemingly overnight. In the months that followed, he wrote thank-you letters to every person he could think of who had made a contribution to his life. He wrote thank-you notes to every one of his 3,000 employees. He not only felt a deep sense of gratitude, he began to treat everyone around him with respect and appreciation.
When Dr. Borror visited him a year or two later, he could hardly recognize him. Happiness and peace had replaced the anger and contention in his heart. He looked years younger. His employees loved him for treating them with the honor and respect that true humility engenders.”
Thanksgiving in one sense is a way we humble ourselves
It should strike us all after reading this that humble people are grateful people. They give thanks to those who really deserve the credit. Thanksgiving in one sense is a way we humble ourselves. It is a way to acknowledge that all we are and all we have is a gift from God.
What I have come to realize is that thanksgiving does not come naturally to human beings. We like to take the credit for everything that comes into our lives.
Therefore, a grateful heart is something that has to be cultivated. One has to be intentional about it. This is why I begin each day giving thanks to God. I thank Him for the gift of life, for my wife, my children, and for the other relationships. He has blessed me with. I thank Him for the resources He has entrusted me with and the work He has called me to do. Finally, I thank him for the spiritual blessings of life, particularly for His son, Jesus.
Now I find that as I go through each day, I find myself continually thanking God. I have come to realize this is not only pleasing to Him, but it impacts me. It has changed me. It is like therapy for the soul.