Years ago, Debbie and I had a couple over for dinner. It was during a time that God was blessing us with vehicles and directing us to give them away. We did this nine times during an 18-month period, and each time we would give one away, God would bless us with a new one. We had this couple over for dinner because we were going to give them a car. After dinner, we went out to the driveway and said, “We’ve been praying, and we’d like to give you this car.” The wife was ecstatic, and after a while she and Debbie went back inside while the husband and I stayed out by the car. He started commenting on the other car in the driveway, saying, “Boy! That’s a nice car.” You’re not going to believe what he said next. He said, “Do you think you’re ever going to give that car away?”
I thought, Not to you!
It’s clear that the husband in this story was not grateful. In fact, I think the opposite of gratitude is greed. I’ve noticed when you give something to someone, they’re either grateful or they want more. Both gratitude and greed have different attitudes behind them. Gratitude looks to God to meet its needs while greed looks to people. There’s something very dangerous about the attitude behind greed, because God never provides supernaturally for us if we look to people as our source—He only provides supernaturally when we look to Him.
There are two spirits that cause the attitude of greed: pride and poverty. Pride tries to get you to think more about your stuff than you should. Poverty tries to get you to feel guilty for your stuff. They’re both wrong because they put your focus on stuff. How we think about stuff determines whether we have a heart of gratitude or not. In fact, there are three ways we view stuff that affect whether or not we have an attitude of gratitude.
1. STUFF IS JUST STUFF
God has no problem if you have stuff, but He does have a problem if your stuff has you. Look at Luke 12:13–15 as an example: “Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’ And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’” The last statement Jesus says here is a great one to memorize.
2. STUFF IS JUST A TEST
Stuff is just a test on where we're going to look for our provision. God will actually give you stuff sometimes to see how you respond. What are you going to do with your stuff? And did you know God is not only concerned with how you think about your stuff? He's concerned about how you think about other people’s stuff. Deuteronomy 5:21 says, “‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’” A desire for stuff really bothers God because it means something other than Him has your heart.
3. GRATITUDE IS PASSING THE STUFF TEST
God uses this test to give us hearts of gratitude. We read in Deuteronomy 8 that God took the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years to “humble” and “test” them. Then in verses 11–18, God tells them that when they reach the Promised Land and they have great wealth, they should not forget when they wandered through the desert. The key to walking in gratitude is remembering where we were before God rescued us.
A few years ago, we had a special offering at Gateway. Debbie and I gave a large amount and the next day the spirits of pride and poverty began to attack me. Pride said, “Boy, you gave a lot of money!” Then, poverty said, “Well, I wouldn’t want anyone to know how much I gave because they might think I have too much.” Right then, the Lord reminded me of something I used to say when I traveled and spoke at crusades and revivals. I’d always start my message by saying, “How many of you would rather be here than in jail?” I immediately thought back to how bad my past was and it shifted my focus from the amount of money we gave to how miraculously God saved me. I thought, Thank You, God, that I was able to give that much money. Thank You because it all came from You.
When we’re being attacked by pride and poverty, and we’re taking on an attitude of greed, the Bible says to remember how God rescued us. An attitude of gratitude is that simple, and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about.