Have you noticed how few people say “Thank you“? There’s a gaping hole in social civility?
Without implying any noble purpose, virtue, or chivalry to myself, let me share some examples of ingratitude that I’ve experienced recently. Within just the past week I’ve held doors open for women, seniors, people with their arms full, and a couple young mothers with strollers. I’ve purchased goods and services from people and organizations when I could just as easily have made the purchases from someone else. I’ve responded to lost tourists’ requests for directions. I’ve let other drivers have the right-of-way when the rules of the road according right-of-way to me. (Did you know there are rules that define who has and who has not got the right of way? Yep.)
What do think happened? In almost every single situation, nada… nothing… zip. Silence, not a smile or even a non-verbal nod of the head.
I even broke my stride to try to help a guy patrolling a parking lot looking for someone who spoke Italian. I don’t speak Italian, but I tried to help him anyway until he told me in English that he worked for Armani, was flying back to Italy “tonight”, didn’t want to have to carry some extra weight and bulk back to Italy and would give the four leather jackets he had in his trunk for the low, low price of… well, you get the picture. What did I get for trying to help? Not even a whispered grazie.
I can’t imagine this past week has produced sadder examples of ingratitude than any other week might produce. We seem to live in a perpetual state of ingratitude.
According to Merriam-Webster ingratitude means ”forgetfulness of or poor return for kindness received”. Ingratitude seems to be epidemic in Western societies, even among Christians. This is a serious problem. There’s more is at stake than merely bad etiquette. Ingratitude is a spiritual issue; and a spiritual issue that inhibits Godly change.
Recently I heard Jim Cantelon say, “Do you know how you can know you’re living in God’s purposes and living out your calling in Christ? One thing… gratitude. You’ll be full of gratitude.
When we demonstrate ingratitude, whether rooted in forgetfulness or haste, we not only offend people, we offend the Triune God of grace and glory. God’s people should be bursting with gratitude; instead many seem bridled by busyness. We should be infused with the conduct of the Creator who took time to lift lowly loaves of bread. Instead many are harried by haste.
A failure to say ‘thanks’ in appropriate situations is a far more serious problem than a case of bad etiquette. I believe this neglect is but an outward sign of an inner problem. We’ll look at this issue more in subsequent posts.
For now, ask yourself, “Am I grateful?” Your answer reveals much more than your manners.