Grateful, not Entitled – Session Six
Grateful, not Entitled – Session Six
In this session we look at how gratitude completely crushes our entitled way of thinking.

This study guide was produced by Keswick Ministries. Keswick Ministries hosts a Convention for 3 weeks each summer in the English Lake District. They also run year-round teaching and training events and produce digital and printed resources. The central vision of Keswick Ministries is to see the people of God equipped, encouraged and refreshed to love and live for Christ in his world. We hope you are blessed by this series.

Getting Started

That’s not fair! God, you just can’t do that!’ OK, we don’t say it out loud but privately we believe that if we are faithful to God, if we try our best, then surely he should give us preferential treatment. What is the point of following God if we can’t, by so doing, dodge at least some of life’s storms? We are among God’s best people; if he doesn’t look after us, how will his work on earth get done? Without conscious thought, we behave as if our ministry, faithfulness, achievements and spiritual discipline entitle us to deference from others and special favour from God. Gratitude, however, completely crushes this entitled way of thinking. When we are thankful to God, we are automatically acknowledging his sovereign control and our dependence on him. Our posture shifts from shaking a fist at him to bowing the knee. We see God for who he is and ourselves for who we are – undeserving recipients of his overwhelming grace.

From the Bible – Psalm 73: 1-26

1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, ‘How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?’ 12 This is what the wicked are like – always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. 15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterwards you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

Discussion Points

When the fruits of our labour have blessed others . . . we should stand ready to receive their gratitude as well as praise from God himself. But then pause to remember the grace-drenched context of your achievements – you did it in his strength, drawing on his encouragement and inspiration, motivated by his pleasure and delight. You probably used the fruits of other people’s labour too – the Chinese technician who assembled the keyboard on which you write, the Brazilian sailor who manned the container ship that carried it across oceans, the Polish van driver who knocked on your door. Give thanks for them and for their labour. Position your efforts in the context of the sovereignty of God – for what do you have (your skills, aptitudes, even your dogged determination) that you did not in some sense also receive.

(Glynn Harrison in Evangelicals Now, )

Personal Application

Prayer Time

Use ‘ACTS’ to guide your prayers today:

Adoration: meditate on God’s character, using Psalm 73:23–26

Confession: repent of those entitled ways of thinking that you have embraced

Thanksgiving: thank God for all the evidence of his grace in your life.

Supplication: bring your needs and concerns to God and ask for his help.

Let us thank God heartily as often as we pray, that we have His Spirit in us to teach us to pray. Thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts.

(Andrew Murray, The Prayer Life, p. 50)