What To Do When Someone is Ungrateful

Tell me if this has ever happened to you? You recognize a need in someone, you do something to meet that need, and then the person either doesn’t notice at all, notices but shows very little gratitude, or for some reason is extremely rude to you in response to what you did.

Let’s say you noticed a friend at work wasn’t having such an awesome day. So, when you went to lunch, you bought back a slice of cheesecake for her because you know it’s her favorite. She thanked you, took it from you quickly, gobbled it down, and that was all she said about it. And you think, “Wow! I thought I’d get a little more gratitude outta that.”

Or, let’s say she took one look at the cheesecake and burst into tears. She said she doesn’t want it because she’s trying to lose weight and you should have known she was on a diet. Now she’s angry at you!

Definitely not the response you wanted.

Or, your neighbor is recently widowed, and you noticed that her yard needed mowing. Her children don’t live around, she may or may not know how to operate her husband’s lawnmower, who knows? But you mowed her yard.

She either doesn’t say thank you at all, or she says a curt “thank you”, and nothing more.

I imagine we’ve all experienced something like this. We did something for someone because we saw they needed it. They didn’t ask, but we did it. And their response was little to no gratitude or even, God-forbid, they were rude in return.

{We obviously don’t do things just to get a “thank you”, and you never know what people are going through to cause them to react the way they do, but those are different posts for another day.}

What I’m talking about is, when you’re in the situation, when you’ve done the deed of service, and the gratitude doesn’t come, what do you do?

Let there be thanksgiving anyway.

Concentrate with thanks (I saw that phrase in some commentary in my English Standard Study Bible and thought it applied here).

Image Credit: brightontheday.com

Based on the 1 Thessalonians verse, we see that it is God’s will for us to be joyful, and I believe that concentrating with thanks will help us do that.

How do you concentrate with thanks?

In any situation when you feel hurt or angry, when you feel resentment, when you feel unnoticed, etc, think of Philippians 4:8.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1 is to memorize this verse.

Then, you’ll need to pray and ask God for help using what the verse teaches.

Next, you’ll need to train yourself to recognize when you need to use it. When you need it, go through each of the 8 words Paul to fix your thoughts on and analyze the situation to see if anything applies to you, the other people involved, or the situation in general.

Think about what is true in the situation. What is something that actually, truly occurred? Make sure you are only look at the facts.

Think about what is honorable about what happened. This means something that was noble, honest, or worthy of respect. Think about the character of the people involved. Were any of their characteristics deserving of respect? Think about when they may have shown integrity or ethical conduct. What about yourself in the situation? What did you do that was respectful? How did you shown integrity or conducted yourself ethically?

Think about what is just or right in the situation. Were the commands of God kept in any way? What was upright or virtuous.

Think about what is pure or holy. What was “without fault” in regards to the situation?

What was lovely (acceptable or pleasing)?

Think about anything that was commendable. (Commendable means of good report). What was admirable, gracious, what has value? Was anything spoken in good will to others? What was spoken in a kindly spirit?

Was there any excellence in the situation? Can you think of anything virtuous or of moral excellence?

Think about anything worthy of praise. Can you applaud or compliment something about the situation?

We’re going to say that, in Philippians 4:8, Paul was talking directly to us concerning situations just like I described involving your friend or your widowed neighbor.

If there’s anything excellent in the situation that you can think of, think about that. Take your mind off the negative things: the person was rude, the person wasn’t grateful, the person didn’t acknowledge what you did at all…take your mind off those things and literally walk through that verse, list all 8 words, and see if you can figure out something from the situation to apply.

In the situation where you took your friend a slice of cheesecake, what is lovely in that situation? What is true in that situation? What is just, excellent, commendable about her, yourself, or the situation in general?

Focus on that. Anytime you start to get aggravated again, as soon as you start to think bitter thoughts about her – “what a hussy! I can’t believe she acted that way over a slice of cheesecake” – stop that thought, take it captive, give it to the Holy Spirit, and then think back on the things that you found about the situation that were lovely.

You may not be able to think of something for all 8.

Ask God to show you the ones you can’t figure out.

But maybe there isn’t something for all 8 words. That’s ok. Being able to apply any of those words in the verse will help redirect your thoughts and help heal your heart.

Any time your mind goes back to the situation and you start to think hurtful things again, refocus on Philippians 4:8 and the words you could apply.

You’ll be concentrating with thanks using Philippians 4:8.

Let there be thanksgiving!

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