I have mentioned in many contexts that the more you give someone, the less grateful they are. Though such things have political implications, I am more concerned with the individual effects. Also, I am not merely concerned with the spiritual and emotional effects on those ungrateful wretches who would be easy targets, but on decent people who don't ask for much, generally provide for themselves, but are recipients of generosity from time to time. Me, for example.
It is hard to receive without feeling one-down, just as it is hard to give without feeling one-up. Ingratitude may be a signal that we have taken something as well as given something. In fact, the receiver may unknowingly consider what he has lost - a sense of self-efficacy - more precious than whatever object he has gained.
People who receive all the time usually find that sense of being "lesser" to be intolerable. (Each side of the charitable transaction can find themselves poisoned no matter how innocent the intent on the other side.) They seek rationalizations and resentments - whether to elevate themselves as deserving in some way, or to denigrate the other as a flawed person who is obliged to be generous.
When someone is generous, it is easy for all observers to just slide into the assumption that they had the money "to spare." How could they give it if it weren't spare, eh? Even if it's their last dollar, our learned and automatic response to observed giving is so strong that we rapidly pop them back into the category of those who have "extra." To then see them as fortunate, or lucky, or undeserving is not such a far slide from there. They have extra. I don't have enough. Life's not fair. It's a short step from there to I deserve at least some of what they have. They are supposed to give it up.
Many of my readers are political types, and will find the social implications of this screaming at them. Fine, but I ask you to drop that for the moment. We're not talking about those others, remember. We're talking about me. And likely you as well.
Before we even get to the difficult gratitude to God (who is abundantly wealthy, so why don't I have more?), we receive from a hundred people a day who we don't even think of gratitude toward: a clerk living in personal tragedy who mustered politeness and even forebearance toward us; a driver who adjusted to our carelessness or entitlement; a family member who declined to argue, even though we were in the wrong. And aren't we just entitled to no traffic jams or construction, and restaurants to be open when we want them to be?
I haven't done anything to earn my air or water. And as much as that should bother me and spur gratitude in me, it doesn't. I feel a complete entitlement to a thousand things. That's how far down we can go in 57 years. Why do we expect God to give us long lives, again? Were we planning on improving that much in the next decades?