For men shall be… unthankful, unholy….
— 2 Timothy 3:2
In the 1970s, a book by a well-known Christian leader was published that shook the entire Christian community to its core. The reason it so deeply impacted so many people was the dreadful predictions it made about the future. Perhaps the most shocking prediction was that a day would come when sexual situations and homosexuality would be seen on television in people’s homes. People were aghast!
The Christian community reacted sharply. Across the nation people resounded, “The man who wrote this book is obviously off in his predictions, because such things could never happen in America.” But now years have passed, and what this man predicted is exactly what has come to pass. No one would have believed that the trash now seen and laughed at on television every night would become so commonplace that people wouldn’t even be disturbed by it.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
This downward spiral that has occurred in the moral code of Western society is hooked to another modern trend that we can trace through the years. Western nations — and especially America — are extremely blessed with financial prosperity and material possessions. So who could ever dream that people in such a blessed environment could be ungrateful for the blessings they possess? Yet instead of focusing on the blessings they have and thanking God for them, a lost and selfish world focuses on what they do not have — claiming they deserve more than they are getting.
As we continue looking at signposts of the last days outlined in Second Timothy 3, we see that an unthankful attitude is listed with unholiness as two major indicators that the final stages of the last days have begun. Paul told us that society at the end of the age will become “unthankful.”
The word “unthankful” is a translation of the Greek word acharistos. The word charistos on its own simply means thankful, but when an a is attached to the front of it, it reverses the condition and turns it into an attitude that is unthankful and ungrateful. It is a picture of people who previously had a thankful heart but now are unthankful and unappreciative. They no longer focus on their blessings they have in their lives; instead, they fixate on what they don’t have. These are people who have become unappreciative and unthankful and who live their lives void of any sense of gratitude.
The only other place where the word acharistos is found in the New Testament is Luke 6:35. There Jesus connects unthankfulness with evil, which lets us know that ingratitude is evil in God’s sight. It is spiritually criminal to not be thankful for what we have.
The unsaved man is selfish because iniquity rules his heart. And a chief manifestation of iniquity is ingratitude, which is a symptom of selfishness. But Christians are not immune from a selfish, ungrateful attitude. Christians can also succumb to the sense of entitlement and selfishness that marks the spirit of this age.
You need to know that as long as an ungrateful attitude prevails in your life, you will never be happy. Thankfulness is a prerequisite to happiness, because only a thankful heart can be a happy heart.
Unfortunately, we live in a world today where people are so self-focused and self-consumed that they are rarely grateful for anything. In fact, people have been blessed with so much that they take their blessings for granted and don’t even realize how fortunate they truly are. Rather than being thankful — the Greek word charistos — they are unthankful (acharistos), and Paul taught that this is a signpost of the last days.
Before we proceed to Paul’s next point, I want to ask you:
- Are you grateful and thankful for what you have, or has unthankfulness begun to poison your spiritual life?
- How long has it been since you took time to thank God for what you do have?
- Taking your words and actions into account, would God count you to be among those who have thankful and grateful hearts, or would He count you to be among the ungrateful and unthankful?
- How long has it been since you considered your blessings and set aside time to specifically thank God for what He has provided in your life?
- When you are thankful, it not only changes your attitude, but it also transforms the environment around you. So isn’t it time that you took time to thank God for His blessings in your life and thereby positively affect your attitude and environment?
One thing is clear: Unthankfulness and unholiness are connected. One always leads to the other. That is why Paul lists the word “unholy” immediately after the word “unthankful.” When people stop expressing a heart of gratitude toward God, unholy attitudes inevitably begin to materialize, and these attitudes are soon followed by blatant unholy behavior.
Think of it — in our world today, nations that were established on godly principles have become infested with godlessness and wickedness. Things have changed radically even within the span of our lifetimes! In just a few short decades, society has devolved from sanctioning open prayer in public schools to outlawing God altogether in those places. Instead of acknowledging God as the Supreme Creator, society refuses to recognize Him at all. And when the recognition of God is removed, everything evil has room to take root and propagate. As long as a society recognizes God, it will live by a higher moral code — but when God is removed, man immediately begins to slide downward into sin and debauchery. Unthankfulness always leads to unholiness.
The word “unholy” that Paul used in this text is from the Greek word anosios. The Greek root, nosios, refers to that which is holy, sacred, pure, or sanctioned by God. However, when an a is attached to the front of the word, it reverses the condition. Just as an a attached to the front of the word charistos changes the meaning from thankfulness to unthankfulness, an a added to the front of the word osios changes its meaning to unholy, unsacred, impure, and unsanctioned by God. This word anosios describes a person who once was ruled by holiness, but who now has become dominated by the rule of unholiness. At one point, this individual revered that which was holy, sacred, pure, and sanctioned by God — but he became contaminated by the unholy, unsacred, and impure. He made the choice to embrace attitudes and actions that are unsanctioned by God.
In addition to describing that which is unsacred, the Greek word anosios (“unholy”) can also be used to describe activities or actions that are impure, ill-mannered, improper, unclean, indecent, coarse, vulgar, offensive, crude, lewd, and rude. That book I mentioned earlier produced a sharp reaction from the wider Christian community when it was published in the 1970s because no one believed such things could happen in a God-fearing nation. Yet in the years since that time, that author’s predictions have proven true, time and time again. God has been removed from classrooms and from public places — and the nation has slidden into a moral downward spiral. One visit to an evening of television will quickly show that which is impure, ill-mannered, improper, unclean, indecent, coarse, vulgar, offensive, crude, lewd, and rude is dominating the airwaves and society. What was once considered vulgar is now widely considered appropriate subject matter for jokes and entertainment. What God calls unholy is what society thinks is funny. What has happened to us?
These are all signs of the last days.
However, just because you live in the last days does not mean that you should be affected by this moral downslide. By making God’s Word your standard and upholding it in your life, you can stay free from the spiritual corrosion that is eating away at the world today. What is happening to a lost society does not have to happen to you or to your family.
To remain untouched by this moral degeneration, you must make the decision to keep your eyes on Jesus and live to please Him. Choose to make His Word the guide for your heart, and never permit yourself to entertain or find funny those things that God deems “unholy.” This situation is not funny — it is spiritually deadly and damning. The world laughs while it goes to hell. Lost society is oblivious to the deception that is dragging it lower and lower into depravity and judgment. What is funny about this scenario? Nothing!
If society focused its gaze on God and kept Him in their minds, it would be more difficult for Satan’s deception to work its plan in the world. But when man becomes unthankful — ceasing to acknowledge God and to be thankful for His abundant blessings — that is when he begins to sink into decadence.
These words in Second Timothy 3:2 are so packed with meaning that this part of the verse could be expanded and paraphrased to read:
“…Although they were once thankful and appreciative, people will become void of gratitude and generally unappreciative of everything in the last times. As a result, impurity will seep into society and cause it to become unholy — impure, ill-mannered, unclean, indecent, coarse, vulgar, offensive, crude, lewd, and rude, behaving and carrying on in a way that God would never sanction….”
The same effect can happen to you as a believer if you cease to recognize God and express thankfulness to Him. You see, a Christian may not slide into the same sins to which the world quickly succumbs, but ungratefulness, bitterness, and other heart-hardening attitudes will worm their way into your soul if you do not maintain an attitude of thankfulness and constantly recognize God’s goodness in your life.
This is exactly why King David spoke to his own soul in Psalm 103:2, saying, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” In a moment of difficulty, David paused to remind himself that God had been good to him. By rehearsing in his mind all the good things that God had done in his life, it created in him a thankful and grateful heart.
So before you do anything else today, why don’t you take a few minutes to be alone with the Lord and express your thankfulness to Him for the wonderful things He has done for you? If you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself or to think that others are more blessed than you, this is an indicator that you may have slipped into the sin of being more focused on what you don’t have than you are on all the good things you do have — and on the wonderful things God has already done for you. The truth is, you have a lot to be thankful for if you’ll just take time to think about it. Regardless of what you are facing today — God has been good to you, and it’s time to thank Him for His blessing in your life!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I ask You to help me remember all the good things You have done for me! Forgive me for being so focused on what I don’t have that I’ve overlooked what I do have. I refuse to be unthankful. Today I pause to rehearse all the good and wonderful things You have done in my life. I repent for allowing ingratitude and a lack of thankfulness to creep into my life when the list of things I have to be thankful for is so long that I don’t know if I can even recall all of Your goodness. Thank You for being so good to me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I have a grateful and thankful heart! My soul blesses the Lord, and I forget not all His benefits toward me! The world around me may forget God’s goodness, but I will not be guilty of this neglect. He saved me from sin; He rescued me from myself; He delivered me from harm and destruction; He has kept me safely through all kinds of situations in life; and He has given me His Word as His promise and His Spirit to empower my life and to help keep me free from sin. He has done so much for me! I make the decision right now that my mouth is going to be filled with His praises, and thankfulness will spring forth from my heart. By recognizing Him and what He has done in my life, I will positively affect my attitude and super-charge my environment with the Spirit of God!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- How long has it been since you made a list of the things you are thankful for that God has done for you? In order to keep your heart soft before the Lord, it is necessary for you to maintain a grateful attitude, so today I want to encourage you to take a little time to reflect on all God has done for you and to make a list of the things for which you are thankful.
- As you’ve watched television, have you noticed how so much of what is broadcast into people’s homes is impure, ill-mannered, improper, unclean, indecent, coarse, vulgar, offensive, crude, lewd, and rude? As you listen to unholy jokes or watch subject matter that is grievous to God, what effect does it have on you?
- What changes do you need to make in your own life to be more pleasing to God in the way you live and think? What do you need to eliminate in order to keep your mind pure and your thoughts clean? Has the Holy Spirit been dealing with you about any areas you need to change — and if yes, what are those areas?