James’s Blog: “How Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth is it to have an Ungrateful Child!”

Shakespeare must have had a thing about ingratitude. As well as contributing the title of this blog entry (it’s from King Lear, fact fans), he also wrote the following:

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind.
Thou are not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude.”

That’s from As You Like It. All I can say is that he must have been on the receiving end of some very insincere thank-you-for-my-birthday-gift letters. Mind you, he’s a fine one to talk seeing as the only thing he left his wife upon his death was his ‘second best bed’.

Many years ago there was a shipwreck off the coast of Evanston in Illinois. The students of nearby Northwestern University helped with the rescue operation. One particular student, Edward Spenser, personally saved the lives of 17 people that day. A long time later, when Spenser was an elderly man, a reporter asked him what was the one thing about that incident that stood out in his mind. Spenser replied, “I remember that of the seventeen people I rescued that day, not one of them ever thanked me.”

Imagine that. A day in which you personally saved 17 lives and all you are left with is the memory of ingratitude. Blow, blow, thou winter wind indeed.

Nothing kills a gift quicker than ingratitude, and a lack of gratitude is a sure fire way to kill the gift of the Spirit of God. In Colossians 3:12 Paul is in the middle of spelling out how followers of Jesus, ‘holy and dearly loved’, should live. By the end of verse 17 Paul has instructed us three times to live gratefully. Three times in three verses actually. Thankfulness is a mark of being ‘holy and dearly loved’. To be holy, we must put on gratitude.

But of course, God gives generously to those who don’t deserve, holy and unholy alike.  In Luke 6:35 Jesus reminds us that God is ‘…kind to the ungrateful and wicked’, but I think it’s rather telling that he lumps the ‘ungrateful’ in with the ‘wicked’, don’t you?

One thought on “James’s Blog: “How Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth is it to have an Ungrateful Child!”

  • November 3, 2015 at 10:47 pm
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    How timely is this?!?! (that’s a rhetorical question, btw). From two perspectives, as well. My two sons have more privileged lives than it is probably reasonable to expect them to realise at their age, but it still niggles when (yet another) pair of rugby boots/more computer games/funds for an expensive school trip are provided, and one receives the most cursory of thanks. and yet I, a suave, sophisticated and terribly perspicacious middle-aged man (well, middle-aged, anyway), still has a tendency to take my nearest and dearest for granted, often in dreadfully insensitive ways. ‘The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest’ wrote William Blake, and I reckon the old fellah was right.

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