Jamaica Patois Wisdom – Being Grateful

by Jefferson David Tant

The Jamaican Patois dialect is colorful, unique, and humorous. It is my desire to share some of the philosophy shown in this mix of colorful phrases that are witty as well as thought-provoking. I hope the readers both profit and enjoy. In my quarter-century plus of teaching there, I have come to appreciate some things about their culture.

Patois: “Nuh bite di han weh feed yu.

English: Never bite the hands that feed you.

Meaning: Do not be ungrateful to one who has given you help.

Among many things God teaches us is gratitude. Christ exemplified this himself. “At that season Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25).

Many passages urge us to not only be thankful but to express that spirit. Those who are the children of God have more reason than anyone on earth to be thankful. We have reason to be thankful for salvation from sin, the hope of heaven, an understanding of the meaning of life, freedom from worry, the right to pray with confidence that our prayers will be heard, the fellowship with those of like precious faith. Many Psalms are expressions of thanksgiving.

The apostle Paul expresses his own view of this as he encourages his readers: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

In Romans, an unthankful spirit is linked to all sorts of vile sins: “They did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).

Daily thanks should not only be directed to God, but to our fellow humans. Paul often expressed thanksgiving for his brethren for their faith, their example, and for their fellowship with him in spreading the gospel (Romans 1:8; I Corinthians 1:4; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3-4; I Thessalonians 1:2,8; Philemon 1:4).

Note Paul’s expression of thanksgiving to the Philippians: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).

How much more satisfying our lives would be if we practiced expressing thanksgiving for daily things. Do you give a thankful wave to the driver that let you cut in on the road; do you thank the waitress who comes to refill your glass of water; do you thank the cashier at the store who rings up your order; do you thank your wife for preparing the meal; do you thank your husband for washing your car; do you thank those who have done even small favors for you? You may think, “Well, that’s what they are supposed to do.” So what? Does that fact that someone does what they are supposed to do mean that their deeds are not worthy of a simple “Thank you?”

The words “thanks, thanksgiving, thankful,” etc., are used 136 times in the Bible. They must have some important significance to God.

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