There are some things that just can’t be done. Like touching your ear with your elbow. It can’t be done. Not unless you are willing to dislocate your shoulder, and perhaps not even then. The same thing is true spiritually. Thankfulness and humility are spiritual gifts that cannot be given or received by anyone but yourself.
My mother would have not been all that surprised to find out that all those times she told me to “smile and say thank you”, were a waste of time. You can teach your children to be polite, but true thankfulness like humility must come from within. It is possible to humiliate others or be humiliated by them, but not even God can make us humble. This is something we need to do for ourselves.
Historians say that Napoleon was exiled to the Island of St. Helena not so much to punish him as to humble him. It didn’t work; it couldn’t work. Napoleon was humiliated, not humbled. America thought they humbled Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. They did not. They only succeeded in humiliating him. I think that you get the point.
In his letter to the Philippians, the writer talks about how our Lord humbled himself so that we might be exalted. The word that is used here means “to empty” yourself for the sake of another. Thankfulness and humility enable us to “consider the interests of others as more important than our own.” (Philippians 2:1-13)
Most of us remember Albert Einstein for his brilliant work in physics and mathematics. But there is another side of his character that is rather revealing. It centers around a little girl who lived near Princeton University. She was having trouble with arithmetic, but suddenly began improving in the subject. The mother inquired why. The girl said that she heard about a professor down the block who was good with numbers, so she rang his doorbell one day and asked for help. He had been teaching her every day since. Then her mother asked if she knew his name, the little girl replied, “I think it is something like Einstein.”