Friday Sermon: The Sin of Ingratitude

By Babatunde Jose

Ingratitude can be seen in the actions and behaviour of many people in today’s society, from children to adults, both the rich and the poor: It is all encompassing and pervasive. Children are often ungrateful to parents, despite all the sacrifices made to make their life worth the while. Husbands and wives often fail to appreciate each other and their efforts. The height of ingratitude is discontentment with what one has and a long throat; wanting what has been provisioned for others: Such people fail to be thankful to God and for one another.

Ingratitude is: “Want of gratitude or sentiments of kindness for favors received; insensibility to favors, and want of disposition to repay them; unthankfulness; all of which are abhorred by God and man”.

Ingratitude is, therefore, the bankruptcy of an individual of a warm emotion or feeling by the receiver of a benefit, for the benefit received, or towards the one by whom the benefit was received.  Charles Spurgeon once said, “I cannot say anything much worse of a man than that he is not thankful to those who have been his benefactors; and when you say that he is not thankful to God, you have said about the worst thing you can say of him”.

Clive Wilson in his Sin of Ingratitude says that gratefulness is, “An emotion of the heart, excited by a favour or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or goodwill towards a benefactor; thankfulness. Gratitude is a virtue of the highest excellence, as it implies a feeling and generous heart, and a proper sense of duty”.

Ingratitude however, is a characteristic of the wicked and a sin (2 Tim. 3:2; Rom. 1:18-23 cp. Num. 11:4-6). The fact that ungratefulness is included in a list of some of the most egregious sins demonstrates its enormity and abhorrence to God.

Ingratitude is often proof of pride in one’s own self and achievements as demonstrated in those ‘professing to be wise, but became fools’ and in us if we refuse to acknowledge the source of our blessings.

Last Saturday I had an unpleasant encounter and I am most grateful to God and a few good men who were able to save the day; and turned what could have been a terrible situation into amazing ending.

My brother Ahmad who is on holiday with me had a health crisis at about 12:30 AM on Saturday. It was a frightening crisis that shook all of us to our foundation and would subsequently erase any iota of faith in our healthcare system. Our first port of call was the Health Centre on Lagos Street, where the doctor on duty explained to us the gravity of the situation and the need for referral to a bigger hospital. He gave first aid in form of respirator and wrote a referral to the Emergency Unit of Lagos University Teaching Hospital. He also, provided an ambulance with a staff nurse to accompany him. Problem started on getting to LUTH where they refused to touch the patient on the excuse that they had no space; neither was the patient examined nor First Aid provided.

The Doctor at the Health Centre then asked us to proceed to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja LASUTH. Here also, we met the same rejection; without any examination or evaluation. This has been and would be the fate of many challenged Nigerians in the hands of our teaching Hospitals. There are worse cases where the patients have died.

Meanwhile, the doctor at the Health Centre asked us to come back for him to continue his First Aid pursuant to our transferring my brother to a specialist in the morning.

Fortunately, we were able to get a Cardiologist in the morning who agreed to see him immediately. After due examination and ECG, he confirmed that the First Aid administered by the kind doctor at the Health Centre saved by brother’s life.

I am therefore most grateful to Dr Idowu and the Night Duty staff of the Health Centre for their good work and dedication to the Hippocratic Oath: Unlike the doctors at LUTH and LASUTH who exhibited a nonchalant, and lackadaisical attitude to a patience in an emergency; a topic for another day.

I also want to express gratitude to Dr Kingsley Kola Akinroye, a foremost Cardiologist; Executive Director of the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), past Vice President of World Heart Federation (WHF) and Africa Epidemiological Association (AEA) and Medical Director of Humana Medical Centre,  for his prompt attendance to my brother and a service above the call of duty.

Before ending this piece, let me go back to the issue of ingratitude, which was triggered by a letter soliciting for funds for the 10-Year remembrance anniversary of late Senator Abraham Adesanya; a nationalist, defender of the oppressed and a great freedom fighter for democracy; and a great friend of my late father.  On seeing the letter my mind went to the beneficiaries of that great man’s struggles and I asked why the need to resort to begging and solicitation for fund. The beneficiaries alone are able and capable of underwriting the cost of whatever ceremony they want to do in his honour; particularly the governors in the South West, both serving and retired. Alas! They would not do so, ingrates and sinners. Unfortunately, it is a sign of the times in which we live. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he said that ingratitude would be one of the evils found in the last days. Benjamin Franklin said, “Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones – with ingratitude.” William Shakespeare addressed the subject in numerous of his plays: He said, “I hate ingratitude more in a man than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness, or any taint of vie whose strong corruption inhabits our frail blood.”

As we open the Quran, the first chapter starts with ‘Alhamdulillah’ which is generally translated as “all praise is for God.” In reality, the word Alhamdulillah signifies gratitude in our everyday lives. In Chapter 55 of the Quran, titled “The Lord of Mercy,” God asks the same question thirty-one times, “Which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?” God has created us and then made this world for us. We are getting benefits from all of His creations! After realizing all this abundance, how can a sensible person be anything but thankful to God?

As for me, I am thankful to God and appreciative of the kindness of the doctors; Idowu and Akinroye.

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

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