“Eat your dinner; just think about all the starving children in the world.”

“I just bought you new shoes, people all over the world don’t even have one pair and you have 10.”

“When I was a kid we didn’t have rides.  If we wanted to go somewhere we walked.”

Do these statements bring back memories?  We’ve heard them; we’ve said them and we’ve felt them.  But these kinds of statements stir a question in my heart.  Why do we train people to access gratitude based upon the pain of others?   Why do we need the pain of other people to prime the pump of our gratitude?

I have a name for this thinking.  GUILTatude. It is not gratitude; it is guilt masquerading as gratitudeGUILTatude.

GUILTatude is kind of like putting gum on a car tire that is leaking.  It might stop the leak, that is, until you drive somewhere.  Gratefulness is such a powerful piece of Godly character that we are actually commanded to be grateful.  Gratefulness fuels contentment, worship, generosity, real compassion, kindness, loyalty, holiness, humility, friendship and service to God.  I believe it is one of the primary catalytic agents for loving God with all we have and loving others like ourselves.  A person CANNOT grow to maturity without walking on the pathway of GRATITUDE.

GUILTatude however is a phony.  It hijacks the deepest movement of God the Holy Spirit in our lives by making life too much about us.  Feel grateful because you have sooo much and other have sooo little. That is about meFeel grateful because you do not have it as bad as that guy over there… About me againAt least I still have my health… About me.

GUILTatude hijacks compassion by altering its DNA.  The DNA of compassion is holy love and righteous anger joined together to cause action and sacrifice for the benefit of another. Today, compassion  is often about how much I have and how little others have; I am told that if I would give up 1 meal a week I could support a child who only gets one meal a day…  But what do we do?  We find the money and never give up the meal.  Instead of being moved to sacrifice…  GUILTatude motivates us to part with 38 bucks a month.

Let me say; I support the host of organizations that help others and the host of people who sponsor kids. (We do, too)  But because we are so incredibly trained in GUILTatude, we have a hard time not making that our default motivator.  This is not the fault of those wonderful organizations doing so much good in the world, it is however the reason so many people say yes to helping and last only as long as the GUILTatude holds its sway.

GUILTatude turns gratitude into a “grateful for what” proposition rather than a “grateful to whom” proposition.  Instead of being grateful to God because HE IS GOD, I end up measuring how MY life is going and when it is good I am grateful, and when it is bad… I am kind of miffed.  To compensate for being miffed at God, I say stuff like… “Oh well at least He has blessed me with…” and thus, GUILTatude sneaks in and short circuits a maturing that can only come from real gratefulness.

What if each of us decided we would be grateful to GOD because HE IS GOD and HE is GRACIOUS?  (That I even know HE is GOD is worth a lifetime of gratitude.)  What if I decided that no matter what I will chose gratitude?  Not because I have it better than someone else but because I HAVE HIM.  That’s all for now and thanks for playing.  Off… we go now!

~ by OFF we go now on June 26, 2010.

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