The next “respectable” or “subtle” or “acceptable” sin Bridges deals with is unthankfulness. Bridges focuses on three main areas that we are commanded to cultivate as gratitude toward God. Each one was challenging and convicting to me, and I wish I had the room to write on each one. The first area is a thankfulness for salvation, which Bridges compares to the healed leper in Luke 17. Spiritually, our condition was much worse than the leper – we were dead in our sins and God gave us a new spiritual life. How much more thankful we should be for our salvation everyday! A second area we need to be continually grateful for is the abundance of blessings God has bestowed upon us.
The third area was probably the most challenging for me, as I realized that it is a serious “respectable” sin in my life (though I was also convicted by the first two as well). This area is in giving thanks to God in everything – including when circumstances “go awry and do not turn out the way we had hoped.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
So often I engage in the sin of ingratitude during difficult circumstances. My (sinful) tendency is to be blind to the blessings of God in that circumstance, and to not give thanks to God until after the situation has past. Then I look back and specifically give thanks to God for getting me through and working through me (hindsight it 20/20, right?). I was using Romans 8:28 (…all things work together for good…) out of context and thinking that the situation would work out in the end.
But that’s not the entire meaning of that passage, as Bridges points out. Instead, verse 29 goes on to explain that the “good” in verse 28 refers to us being conformed to the image of Christ. In other words, God intends all our circumstance – good and bad – to be instruments of sanctification, of growing us more and more like Christ. We are to give thanks in faith during every difficult circumstance, trusting God’s promise to conform us to the image of Christ and to develop our Christian character through the situation. Romans 8 goes on to exclaim the promise we should cling to during every circumstance: Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Bridges writes this helpful prayer for giving thanks during those difficult times:
“Father, the circumstance I am in now is difficult and painful. I would not have chosen it, but You in Your love and wisdom chose it for me. You intend it for my good, and so by faith I thank You for the good You are going to do in my life through it. Help me to genuinely believe this and be able to thank You from my heart.”