How to Be Less Thankful

Late fall can be difficult. The daylight is fading, the weather (at least here in Pennsylvania) is getting cold, and there’s a gray dinginess in the air.

On top of environmental downers, people pop out of the woodwork to encourage us to be thankful. What a drag! How can we possibly give ourselves the focus we deserve when our friends are pointing out all the ways we should be grateful? It’s oppressive, I tell you.

If you’ve had enough of the thanksgiving police bullying you into a humble posture, this article is for you. Read on for some tried and true methods for growing in thanklessness.

Negative Advice

I’ve collected nine pieces of advice here to turn you into a thankless person.

Don’t think about what God has done

There’s a consistent theme in the Bible: Considering God’s deeds will fuel thankfulness (Psalm 9:126:7). We can’t have that.

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. (Psalm 75:1)

Don’t think about other Christians

If you’re anything like the apostle Paul, when you think about how God has worked in the lives of other believers you’ll be filled with thanks (Philippians 1:3–5Ephesians 1:15–16). The first three chapters of 1 Thessalonians are just stuffed with this. So, while it might be hard, you’ll need to banish these thoughts.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:4–8)

Don’t think about the body of Christ

Not only should you avoid thinking about God’s grace given to others, you must also dispel any thoughts of God’s people as one united body. Individual Christians are graciously brought into this loving family where peace and forgiveness are possible. The acceptance and compassion that you can experience in the church are sure to make you grateful, so put these thoughts far away.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12–17)

Don’t think about God’s character

The Old Testament Israelites sang frequently about God’s steadfast love. This love is a part of his character and the basis of his mighty works for his people.

This means that if you want to be less thankful, you must not ponder who God is and what he is like.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise? (Psalm 106:1–2)

Don’t think about God’s provision

A surefire way to be thankless is to develop an outsized notion of what you deserve and how much what you have is a result of your hard work and merit. Stay away from those teachings about humility, sin, and God’s providence.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:14–16)

Don’t read the Bible

To be safe, you probably shouldn’t get anywhere near the Bible if you want to be less thankful. And you certainly shouldn’t get anywhere near Psalm 100. The writer of that psalm composed those words specifically to aid in thanksgiving!

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3)

Don’t think about God’s redemption

The greatest, lasting work of God is his redeeming work. At a high price, he bought his people for himself that he might have them forever. Quite naturally, meditating on this gracious work of God will lead people to praise and thank him.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:8–9)

Don’t think about the gospel

Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of his kingdom. God’s redeeming work reached its climatic, essential summit in the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. This is how God changes hearts and brings people to himself.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

Don’t eat

This last bit of advice is extreme, I’ll admit. It might be hard to pull off, particularly at this time of the year.

If you’re serious about becoming less thankful, you probably need to stay away from food. Especially for people who have spent a lot of time around the church, the beginning of a meal is the occasion for prayers of thanks. This groove may be so well worn in your brain that you are naturally inclined to thanksgiving before picking up your fork.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4–5)

A Sustaining Vision

If you’re starting this journey, it may seem like a long road ahead of you. You need a sustaining vision to get you through those difficult moments.

Think about the person you will be. As you become less and less thankful, you’ll become more entitled, more turned in on yourself, more lonely, more bitter, more critical, and more miserable overall.

Sounds like a plan!


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