The Ugliness of Ingratitude
The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
Today we meet two ungrateful men. If we have softened hearts, we can learn a lesson from them about being thankful for God’s mercy.
And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.” I Samuel 19:4
And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:31,32
Ingratitude brings irrational behavior and hatefulness toward others.
Saul was so blinded by jealousy and fear of David that he could not see that the man he wanted to kill was his most loyal and beneficial ally. Saul was king of Israel, but the history of his reign is overshadowed by his senseless rivalry with a man who (as we shall see in subsequent readings) would not hurt him even when he could have easily assassinated him. Jonathan attempted to reason with his father and to point out how David had brought success to Saul but he could not keep this perspective clearly in mind. Saul would momentarily relent but then renew his pursuit of the man he feared. Instead of thanking God for David, Saul spent most of his energy trying to destroy David.
A similar attitude can be seen in the parable of the prodigal son whose older brother resisted attending the welcome home party. The father begged him to join in the feast, but he was offended by the graciousness and mercy of his father toward his returned son. He complained about not getting such glorious treatment himself. He resented the father’s generosity because he felt entitled to more than his brother.
Think about it
Jesus does not tell us how the story ends. We leave them with the party going on. The father and older brother are standing outside discussing whether or not he will join the celebration. Does the brother continue to mope and pout, or does he enter into the food and festivities? We aren’t told.
How would you respond? Would you rejoice in the goodness and grace of the father or would you feel short-changed, deserving of much more? Are you grateful for God’s mercy or resentful that others who have sinned greatly have been blessed with forgiveness? Ingratitude is ugly, but, worse than that, it reveals a hardened, lost heart. If you are standing outside of the celebration, pray for a humble and grateful heart to enter in.