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vs. Unthankfulness
Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life

Key Verse

“For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
I Corinthians 4:7

The operational definition of gratefulness is “making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life.” What would happen if no one ever taught you how to read instructions, road signs, or the Bible? How long would you live if you never received food? What would you do if no one provided a roof over your head? Even the very breath needed for life is a gift God has given to you! Every day you can find reasons and opportunities to appreciate what God and others do on your behalf. Recognizing these gifts and those individuals who have given them is the first step in developing a grateful attitude. Gratefulness is then complete when you take that extra time and care to demonstrate outwardly through your words or actions how much you inwardly appreciate what they have done for you.

A grateful person recognizes and acknowledges that God is the Giver of all good things.
The one who is unthankful focuses on what he wants but did not receive, rather than on the loving and abundant provision given to meet his needs.

The opposite of gratefulness is unthankfulness. An unthankful person does not notice how much others have done for him. He may proudly think, “I did such a good job!” without acknowledging those who have helped or trained him. He forgets to say “Thank you,” but rather has the attitude that he deserves certain benefits or favors. He might even murmur or show displeasure with another’s act of kindness toward him, if the deed was not done to his satisfaction. Because he is self-centered, he is also unable to see the efforts of others and how he is blessed by them. The one who is ungrateful misses the opportunity to encourage those around him with a contented attitude, a cheerful countenance, and a verbal appreciation for their efforts.

Evaluation Questions

  • Is giving thanks a consistent part of my prayer life?
  • When I profit in some way, do I consider who made it possible for me?
  • Do I overlook the good others do for me because I expect them to give to me?
  • Am I prompt in showing gratefulness to those who have benefited my life?
  • Has my gratitude to God and others motivated me to freely invest in someone else?
  • Do others hear me express thanks to the ones who have invested in my life?
  • Would my family say that my face and my words reflect a grateful spirit?
  • When I am tempted to murmur or complain, do I look for reasons to be thankful?

More About Gratefulness

“So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
Helen Keller
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Gratefulness with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Recognize the gift.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

Stop murmuring and complaining.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14–15

Identify benefactors.

“And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.” Luke 7:2–5

Make time for gratitude.

“But shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table: for so they came to me when I fled because of Absalom thy brother.” I Kings 2:7

Count my blessings rather than my burdens.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” Psalm 68:19

See His hand.

“Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” Psalm 145:16–18

Express thanks.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3–5

Show my parents and teachers that I appreciate them.

“Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Deuteronomy 5:16

Take care of my things.

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.” Proverbs 24:30–31

Be content with what I have.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11

Gratefulness in Scripture

The Samaritan Leper Returns

“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. . . .”
Luke 17:15–16
Long ago, leprosy was considered a symbol of sin and judgment from God. This disease of the skin and nervous system had no cure. A leper’s hands and feet became damaged due to the inability to feel pain when injured. Lepers could experience physical deformities, raspy voices, and even blindness. Because people thought that leprosy was an extremely contagious condition, those infected were forced to separate themselves from others and live outside the city. These ailing people were shunned as outcasts of society. They had to wear torn clothing and shout, “Unclean!” so others would know they were near. Only the priest could declare someone “clean” (well) who had been suspected of having leprosy. One day, as Jesus traveled between Samaria and Galilee on His way toward Jerusalem, He was met by ten lepers outside a village. This mixed group of Jewish and Samaritan lepers had overlooked their national prejudices, even though Jews didn’t normally intermingle with Samaritans. They now were united by a common factor—their illness. Hearing of Jesus, these alienated men cried out for healing. Would their request be fulfilled? What would Jesus say to them? What would they experience that day, and would they make time to express their gratitude to Jesus?

Revealed in Nature


The porcupine, though lacking both speed and good eyesight, displays gratefulness through its satisfaction with the abilities that it has been given, including 33,000 razor sharp quills. As it waddles along, it can be found happily “singing” to itself in a high-pitched falsetto voice.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. As children cultivate thankfulness and make it known, their attitude, perspective, and interactions with others will brightly reflect their grateful hearts.

View the Gratefulness booklet sample:

Get the complete Gratefulness booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Gratefulness

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
Grateful people appreciate what they have; murmurers don’t want what they are given.