Should compassion come with a gratitude test?

Giving thanks is a funny thing. We notice when gratitude is missing in others, but not when it’s missing in ourselves. Maybe it’s because we judge ourselves by our motives, but we judge others only by their completed actions. We give ourselves credit for our good intentions, but not others.

I think God would say most of us aren’t very grateful, especially those of us who are materially rich. There’s a story in the Bible about Jesus healing ten lepers. Only one of them returned to give thanks (Luke 17:16). Nine others were healed and went on their way without looking back at the person who helped them. Just one out of ten expressed gratitude. Maybe the other nine intended to be grateful, but they didn’t show it. If they did intend to give thanks, Jesus didn’t give them credit for it. Apparently it’s what we do, not what we intend, that counts.

Sometimes when I help someone who’s ungrateful, I get judgmental. My own ingratitude shows. Again, it’s something we can see in others, but not in ourselves. I notice when people don’t say thanks, but I don’t notice it in myself. I wonder how many times I have failed to express thanks and didn’t notice. If I were truly grateful, I wouldn’t be offended by ingratitude in others because I’m not entitled to anything, including their appreciation. People who are offended by ingratitude in others probably are ungrateful themselves.

That’s why I don’t think compassion should come with a gratitude test. There may be times when it’s best to withhold help to someone in need, but it’s not because we’re offended by their ingratitude. Michelle Singletary has an interesting post about this. She emphasizes the proper attitude we need when we’re helping people in need. You can find it here: 

What do you think?