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How To Deal With Ungrateful People

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Welcome, this is a three part series leading up to Thanksgiving. You may have some unthankful people around your table this year and I want you to be confident and ready to engage with them. My hope is that this series will reveal how God deals with unthankful people offering us a pattern to follow.

If you wanted a job where people thank you all the time, you probably should have chosen doorman rather than ministry. Ministry, and especially youth ministry, is a thankless job because you can’t please everyone. It is inevitable that someone will be ungrateful for all your hard work. The question is, how do you minister to people who don’t understand the value of what you bring to the table or even oppose the work you’re trying to accomplish.

Jesus offers us a few solid steps for dealing with ungrateful people, but, as always, he first address what needs to change in us.

 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:34-36

Let’s break down the scripture and take a look at what Jesus is trying to tell us.

But love your enemies

Not everyone who is ungrateful is our enemy but think about how offended you get when someone doesn’t recognize your contribution and effort. It does’t take long before you start seeing ungrateful people as your enemy. You no longer want to offer you time, gifts or service to them because they are ungrateful.

Enemies can be known and unknown, hateful and adversarial.

Enemies can be momentary, like

  • the stranger who cuts you off on the road
  • the person who is driving too slow in front of you and making you late for whatever you should have left earlier for.
  • the employee who takes advantage of you.

There can also be life long enemies

  • They can be those who challenge everything you do at work or are always vying for your job.
  • They can be family member drafting for attention, honor or power.
  • They can be ungrateful children who try to use and manipulate you or are lazy or uncaring.
  • They can be someone who felt slighted by you years ago and loves to drag your name through the mud whenever they can, online and off.

People who oppose God are called enemies of the cross. Jesus said, if they were his enemies they would be our enemies as well but very few people have personal enemies who seek to destroy them the way people tried to destroy Jesus or destroy the Apostle Paul. 

No one is trying to throw us from a cliff or stone us or even do us bodily harm, they just oppose what we value or consider us enemies from a past slight or from a jealous heart.

When Jesus says, “love your enemies” he is saying that loving others should be perpetual abiding rule of action. In other words, loving those who oppose us is Standard Operating Procedure. It’s not debatable.

do good to them, 

Not only does Jesus want us to love them he wants us to do what is inherently good. He challenges us to do what is inspired and powered by God for them. In others words, God wants us to practically love people. God doesn’t want us to love people in theory only, but in practice.

What this looks like around your family table or work space will vary, but seek to do good for those who disagree, dislike or oppose you. Maybe good looks like letting them get the last piece of pumpkin pie or offering to take up their plate when they’re finished.

Good does not have to be grand. Good can be simple.


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