Devotion in Motion: The opposite of gratitude

34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

      for his steadfast love endures forever!   1 Chronicles 16:34

By Bro. John L. Cash

While celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I was thinking about something. We all know what gratitude is. But what is the opposite of gratitude? I have an answer that may surprise you. The opposite of gratitude is wastefulness.

We’ve all sacrificed something of value for another person only to feel the pangs of regret when we see our gift being wasted. Worse than that, if we’re honest, we’ve all felt the shame of realizing how we’ve wasted gifts that were given to us in love. The word “prodigal” (as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son) doesn’t mean “wicked.” The Prodigal Son was “the wasteful son.”

I have a dear internet friend who is a pastor in Kenya. He and his wife and 10 daughters live in a small house with a concrete floor. (He adopted six of his daughters when their parents died of AIDS and other diseases.) Some of our local congregations help him with money for food and necessities.

Chatting with him on Facebook Messenger, I told him that he and his family could live like royalty on the things we throw away. He laughed at me for saying this; I honestly think he has no way of imagining a prosperous nation such as ours. A missionary from India told me that Americans throw away things that are luxuries in other countries.

So, maybe the best thing to do during the season of Thanksgiving is not to only feel warm and grateful for our lives. Maybe what we need is to take an inventory of everything God has given us. Then we need to figure out what parts of His bounty we’re wasting. Then we need to be better stewards, so we have more to share with the least of his children who are in need.

Thanksgiving isn’t just about giving thanks. It’s about being faithful so we’ll have more to share.

 Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and spent almost 35 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s currently on a sabbatical from the preaching ministry, and is an English teacher at the Choctaw Tribal School. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where it was a socially-distanced Thanksgiving this year.) You can send him a note at