In Section 59 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord reminds us of His bounty towards us:
Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
This list of great blessings is followed a by a stark and forceful warning:
21 And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.
There are two ways in which he can offend God and kindle his wrath:
- Not acknowledge the blessings he has given us
- Break the commandments.
So, ingratitude towards God is ranked alongside disobedience in seriousness. In fact, Brigham Young said: “I do not know of any, excepting the unpardonable sin, that is greater than the sin of ingratitude.”
I wonder why it is that the Lord views ingratitude so seriously. Here are some thoughts on this:
- President Hinckley said that it was the ‘mark of the narrow, uneducated mind.’ With such a narrow mind we fail to see the Lord’s hand in our lives and think that we have earned all that we have – this leads inexorably to the further sin of pride.
- How can we truly worship the Lord if we are not grateful for his blessings?
- How can we achieve joy and happiness in this life if we are mean-spirited and ungrateful?
- Our prayers will lack authenticity if we only seek blessings and fail to recognise those that we have received.
- We cannot be assured that the Lord knows us and loves us if we cannot see his hand in our lives.
- It is surely impossible to exercise faith in the Lord if we cannot see what he has already wrought.
One definition of ingratitude is ‘Forgetfulness of or poor return for kindness received.’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). The Lord has given us everything we have including the air we breathe and if (we) should serve him with all (our) whole souls yet (we) would be unprofitable servants (Mosiah 2:21) so on that basis thanksgiving should be a way of life and not a national holiday.