The old hymn calls us all to count our blessings. Does that mean to count yourself fortunate to have enjoyed better life circumstances than many others through no effort on your part, or does it mean to rejoice in all the many good things you have as one of God's favorites because you live so righteously. These represent a tremendously powerful difference in meaning and resultant attitude. The one engenders a sense of humility and gratitude while the other is self congratulatory and immensely prideful. One reflects the spirit and message of Jesus and the other smacks of egotistical contempt for all those who for whatever reason are less fortunate.
Such subtlety in interpretation and meaning is indicative of the many ways different people claim to embrace Christianity or the message of Jesus with such dramatically varied results in attitude and behavior. All too often we hear that our good fortune as a nation is the direct result of being a God fearing people, at least in the past. Any way you want to say it, this implies that we were blessed because we deserved it; we earned it by righteous living. We were God's favorites and that brought about our blessings.
Now in addition to being wildly egotistical, this is a preposterous display of arrogance as viewed by anyone outside our group. Who wants to hear someone claim that they deserve better life circumstances because they are superior in God's eyes.
In countless ways, our focus on the religion known as Christianity can promote diametrically opposed viewpoints and mindsets. The thought process behind our response to fortunate life circumstances is only one example. If we lack appropriate humility in our religious exercise, we can turn thanksgiving into a sin, not unlike that displayed by the praying Pharisee in Luke 18:11.