Free translation from a talk of the Rebbe, 11 Nissan, 5741 (1981), (excerpt)

Gratitude requires reciprocity

The concept of gratitude exists when a person has received something good and recognizes it fully; it so permeates his being that he’s moved to express it verbally – at length, and in great detail, commensurate to the goodness he has received. Of course, first of all, one must thank the Source of Blessings, G‑d Himself.

A fundamental principle in gratitude, in addition to the verbal expression of thanks, or, even better, an expression of thanks through action, if one reciprocates a good deed with another, and if possible, in double measure…

But there is another fundamental point which is also based on a point of Jewish law. As discussed many times, everything, even mundane things such as business and the like, are based upon, and we should look for their parallel in, Torah. And then one discovers that it is no mere parallel, but Torah is the spiritual origin of its earthly counterpart. Torah states: “G‑d created nothing in His world without purpose.”

How is this reflected in man’s responsibility to G‑d? It’s not enough to serve G‑d; rather, you must serve Him to the best of your abilities.

When G‑d gives a person another year of life, and more decades of life, until the ultimate – years, it is a wealth that endows him with the privilege to offer the sacrifice of a “wealthy” man compared with the “pauper’s sacrifice” that he offered beforehand.

This is true concerning an individual, how much more so for a community, and all the more so with regard to an entire country.

The United States is a large country, and is one which is called a superpower.

There are some here who declare, “We have saved ourselves,” advocating that this country isolate itself and view what happens in the outside world with apathy, “It’s someone else’s problem.” Or those who are believers will dismiss it as “G‑d’s problem”… Regardless, to give of our money and might in order to repair the world, that is not our concern.

But G‑d has granted the United States the ability to influence the entire world. – Granted, not all at once, but gradually.

But various responses and excuses are given to this. The first is, “Gird yourself first.” Once he corrects all the problems in his own environment, then he’ll handle the issues in his city and country. Then he’ll start to consider how to correct problems in other countries, unless there is a foreign threat forcing us to be involved. But this approach exhibits a lack of gratitude.

With privilege comes responsibility

When G‑d grants power and abilities, and one fails to utilize them as he should, it is the opposite of G‑d’s will, for “G‑d did not create even one detail in His world in vain.” When G‑d grants power, and one doesn’t use it to bring positive benefit to the world as G‑d – the Ultimate Good, Who naturally desires to do good – desires, then he upsets the balance of creation, where not one thing was created without purpose.

On the contrary, G‑d created it in a way that it demonstrates His might, as we recite: “You, G‑d, are forever mighty,” and “You are Master over all your creations.” G‑d’s might can be seen within the world, such that His presence can be felt so tangibly that one can point at it with his finger. We can relate to G‑d directly, with simple faith in Him, as though we can see Him with our eyes of flesh.

So this nation has the privilege and the responsibility to do its utmost, using its resources to promote true peace in the world, and true peace in the world must be based on faith in G‑d, Whose name is “Peace.” Although temporarily, in order to reach peace, one may need to speak harshly, still, there’s no doubt that if the strong words are intended for the sake of true goodness and peace, there will be no unjust or undesirable outcome from it.

This approach is consistent with the teachings of our Torah, the Torah of Life, which provides instruction in life; moreover, it is also a Torah of Truth, which reveals the Truth of G‑d as it is found within the world.

This is the truth related to “repairing the world,” to prepare the entire world “To serve G‑d together of one accord.”

Applying the principle in the daily life of each individual

This is true of the country as a whole. And, as discussed earlier, it is also true of each individual, in particular for Jews, who are “a wise and understanding nation,” and for whom Torah is “our life, and the length of our days” – for every single Jew.

G‑d’s blessing of “wealth” must be utilized in all its forms: wealth in the simple sense, financial prosperity; or wealth of influence upon one’s environment, one’s community, and country; or wealth of emotional sensitivity – which is particularly relevant in the education of boys and girls, for emotional sensitivity is more relevant to pedagogy than intellectual excellence.

Likewise, and much more so, those who possess intellectual wealth must use it to the maximum.

Indeed, to “constantly rise in matters of holiness” is a concept in Jewish law, but the ultimate fulfillment of law is through “bringing it into action,” applying the principle in daily life.

Yes, first it should be expressed in your thoughts. Then it must become manifest in speech, so that everyone will hear and learn from your example. But then – and this is the main thing – it must become manifest in action, in one’s behavior, both toward G‑d and one’s fellow man.