For even though they knew God as the Creator, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking, and their foolish heart was darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.
I once read an article about a woman who at one time was a devoted Christian whose plan was to serve God in ministry. She grew up going to church and attended youth group regularly. Even in her youth she did not stray far from the path. As she grew into an adult her plan was to work in ministry and find a good husband. It was on that journey to finding love that she would experience something very damaging and very tragic. Sadly, the point of her article was to explain how she had gone from being a fervent Christian to walking away from the Lord. Because of the tragedy she experienced, she decided that she would rather follow someone other than a God who would allow that much pain, if He existed at all.
There certainly is a connection between gratitude and idolatry. The grateful person knows of God’s provision and also feels what it is like to live under his care and watchful eye. If we are grateful we will not discount even one blessing no matter how many trials also come our way. What can happen is that someone who has thanked God for a thousand blessings might experience one extremely traumatic event which changes his or her entire view on the Lord. All of a sudden, that person feels and thinks differently about God because of that pain. All the person can see is the damage, and he or she no longer can appreciate every good thing God has brought along the way. At its root, the dissatisfaction with God which leads to idolatry is nothing more than a lack of gratitude.
Gratitude involves both the mind and the heart because it is about reason as well as emotion. The heart is involved because gratitude is a feeling we have which informs our actions. We behave a certain way because we feel grateful for God and all He brings. The mind is involved because that is where many battles are won and lost, and the enemy will try to use flawed reasoning to make us unappreciative of the Lord. If we do not check both our emotions and our thoughts, it is easy to forget why we should be grateful to God, and that leads to our searching for other sources to provide what we think He lacks. Father, we ask You to renew both our minds and our hearts so that we would grow even more grateful daily.