Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thankfulness As a Moral Therapeutic

In this world of corruption there is a real danger that the earnest Christian may overreact in his resistance to evil and become a victim of the religious occupational disease, cynicism. The constant need to go counter to popular trends may easily develop in him a sour habit of faultfinding and turn him into a sulky critic of other men's matters, without charity and without love.

What makes this cynical spirit particularly dangerous is that the cynic is usually right. His analyses are accurate, his judgement sound. He can prove he is right in his moral views; yet for all that he is wrong, frightfully, pathetically wrong. But because he is right, he never suspects how tragically wrong he is. He slides imperceptibly into a condition of chronic bitterness and comes at last to accept it as normal.

It would be convenient indeed if it were possible to have a spiritual experience at some altar of prayer that would cure this condition completely and for good. And some sincere persons seem to believe that it is. I do not think so. It is like trying to get an infusion of health once for all that would take care of our physical condition for the rest of our lives, obviously and impossible thing. No matter how healthy we are, unless we cultivate correct bodily habits we will not stay healthy long. And an experience of heart cleansing that is not followed by right spiritual habits will be disappointing in the end. Continued spiritual health will result from right heart habits. If these are neglected the inner life will degenerate, no matter how wonderful our past experiences may have been.

Now, as a cure for the sour, faultfinding attitude I recommend the cultivation of the habit of thankfulness. Thanksgiving has great curative power. The heart that is constantly overflowing with gratitude will be safe from those attacks of resentfulness and gloom that bother so many religious persons. A thankful heart cannot be cynical.

I do not here recommend any of the applied psychology nostrums so popular in liberal circles and among starry-eyed poets of the sweetness-and-light school of religious thought. The output of the "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" jockey makes painful reading for the man or woman who has been introduced to God through the miracle of the new birth. But I do recommend the cultivation of gratitude as a cure for spiritual sourness. There is good scriptural authority for this and experience teaches us that it works.

We should never take any blessing for granted, but accept everything as a gift from the Father of Lights. Whole days may be spent occasionally in the holy practice of being thankful...for every man and woman of every race and nationality who may have contributed anything to my peace and welfare I am grateful, and I shall not let God forget that I am.

-A. W. Tozer. Excerpt from his book "The Root of The Righteous."

I've been gradually working my way through this book for a long time, but I haven't picked it up for probably about a year, and I just happened to pick it up and resume at this chapter. This has something that has been on my mind for a while. We see this cynical attitude in Christian circles so often. I find myself at times slipping into it...we must be very careful about this. And I think it's so important to remember a point that Mr. Tozer brings up. There are so many sins in our life that we fall into, and we repent in tears at the altar in church, but we find ourselves right back in that sin soon enough. We must replace that sin that we struggle with with a "right spiritual habit." This is so important, and I love how Mr. Tozer addresses it so clearly.

Well, I hope and pray that these thoughts from Mr. Tozer were a blessing to you!

1 comment:

Caleb said...

It is interesting the way the Lord works in His children's hearts. This is something my family have had on our minds a lot lately as well. I think this "cynical mindset" is something we can all fall victim of if we lose focus of the reason God put us on this earth-to glorify Him. Thanks so much for your thoughts. It is something we need to be reminded of on a regular basis!