12) Getting Used to Ingratitude

     In these quotes taken from an anthology of quotes by Martin Luther (What Luther Says, volume 3,  Concordia), Luther teaches us to learn to live with ingratitude.


     To learn to be thankful is not enough; we must also get used to exercising the virtue of bearing up under ingratitude.  This virtue belongs to God alone and to real Christians…  Learn this lesson, then.  Let him who would be a Christian be prepared to earn ingratitude with all his benefactions, faithfulness, and service; and let him beware lest he be moved thereby no longer to serve and help others.  For one of the Christian virtues and a real fruit of faith consists in your saying, when people give you a dirty deal after you have done your best:  “No, you will not get me angry and disgruntled by your conduct.  I will put up with it and nevertheless help wherever I can.  Will you be unthankful?  I know One in heaven above us who will thank me in your stead.  His thanks will be more pleasing to me than yours.”  This is maintaining a Christian attitude.  But you will not be able to learn this art from the world.  It does the very opposite.  (#4555)


     We must live among ungrateful people, but we should not take offense and cease to do good on that account.  On the contrary, we should continually do good and pay no attention to the poor thanks we reap.  Just so God lets His sun rise daily on both the grateful and the ungrateful  (Matthew 5:45).


     For if you do good in order to earn the gratitude and applause of the world, you will find the very opposite.  Now if you grow very angry, want to wreck everything, and are determined to do no more good, you are no longer a Christian.  You harm yourself and accomplish nothing.  Can you not see where your home lies, that you are living in a world which is bound to be full of vice and ingratitude?…  It requires no skill to live with the pious only and to do good to them, but it does require ability to associate with the wicked without becoming wicked yourself.    (#4556)


Psalm 35:12 — They repay me evil for good and leave my soul forlorn.

Ecclesiastes 9:14-15 — There was once a small city with only a few people in it.  And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it.  Now there lived in that city a man poor, but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom.  But nobody remembered that poor man.

Jeremiah 18:19-20 — Listen to me, O Lord; hear what my accusers are saying!  Should good be repaid with evil?  Yet they have dug a pit for me.  Remember that I stood before you and spoke in their behalf to turn your wrath away from them.

Luke 17:11-19 — Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him.  They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”  When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  And as they went, they were cleansed.  One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed?  Where are the other nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Matthew 5:45 — He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV)


     O Father and God of all comfort, grant us by your Word, a firm, happy, and grateful faith, by which we may readily overcome this and every trial, and at length realize that it is the truth when your Son, Jesus Christ says: “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”  Amen.   –Martin Luther