One of the great Christian virtues is gratitude. Our first responsibility in this area is to be grateful to God, not only for life itself, with all the blessings of common grace, but above all for forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s voluntary self-sacrifice, and for all the benefits that have flowed to us on account of the Lord Jesus. It is generally true, however, that those who are grateful to God will also display a grateful attitude to others, not least to God’s choice servants from whom they have derived so much good. Conversely, if Christians are singularly ungrateful to the older believers who have led them in their first steps of faith and discipleship, the failure probably reflects the kind of egocentric immaturity that is thankless toward God himself.
Christians bent on maturity should work hard at gratitude. Thankfulness to friends, parents, senior believers who have helped us on our way, and above all to God himself, is not only common courtesy, it is something more, much more: it is simultaneously a powerful antidote to bitterness and malice, and potent acknowledgment that we stand by grace. What else could ever display gratitude as the appropriate response to grace, whether the special grace that brings us salvation or the grace mediated through fellow believers, friends, and events? Grace gives; what more can we do than give thanks? What response to grace could be more vile than ingratitude?
D.A. Carson, A Model of Christian Maturity