Gratitude from the Heart

Luke 17:11-19

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance  13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

 

Gratitude from the heart

 

Years ago, a renowned doctor by the name of William L. Stidger wrote an inspirational story in the local newspaper.  One day out of the clear blue sky he decided to write a letter to his schoolteacher when he was a child.  He thanked her for awakening in him a love for English poetry.  It wasn’t long after he wrote that letter that he received a reply from his teacher, she said, “I want to let you know what your note meant to me.  I am an old lady in my eighties, living alone in a small room, like the last leaf on a tree.  I taught fifty years, yet in all that time yours is the first letter of appreciation I have ever received.  It came on a blue, cold morning and cheered my lonely heart as nothing has in many years.”  From that time, Dr. Stidger wrote thank-you notes to many for the little things and many favors shown to him over the years.  When I read this story, I was touched by this doctor’s debt of gratitude.  He hadn’t forgotten those who helped him get to where he was at in life.                             

As we get ready for our nation’s holiday of Thanksgiving this week, what is it that you are thankful for?  The food on your table?  The car in our driveway that gets you to work?  The roof that God has placed over your head and over the heads of your family?  Your job?  Your health?  Your retirement?  Your bank accounts?

There’s so much to be thankful for and yet sometimes it hard to be mindful that all that we have and all that we own and all that has been graciously given to us, comes from the hand of our God.  It shouldn’t surprise us that 9 lepers failed to give thanks; what should surprise us is that even one came back to find Jesus and thank him, especially when we consider how often we forget to return thanks to God for all that he give us. 

For God gives us so much more than we deserve and so much more then any of us even need, and that’s just speaking about the physical blessings that he pours out into our laps, much less the spiritual blessings.  For we, who deserve nothing from God’s hand because of our sin, have been given everything from God’s hand on account of his love for us in Jesus.  God sent Jesus to eternally procure our forgiveness and the way he procured that forgiveness was by laying down his life for our sins.  You see, Jesus once said to his disciples, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). 

The fact that Jesus calls me his friend, is enough for me to fall on my knees and thank God every day of my life.  You see, to be a friend of Jesus means that we are friends with God and no longer his enemy on account of our sin.  The Bible tells us that God chooses to see us through the work of Jesus, which means he no longer sees sin, but sees holiness and righteousness, which is the requirement of God to enter heaven.  What we all lack because of our sin, our God has graciously supplied to us through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Do you wish to say, “thank you” to Jesus?  Then join his church family this Thanksgiving and gather with your brothers and sisters in the house of God to hear his Word and rejoice in your salvation.  And gather each week with your loved ones in God’s house and say thank you to him with your voice, with your love for him and others around you, and with your offerings. 

For just as Jesus was disappointed with the thankless hearts of the 9 lepers, so it is that he is endeared and flattered, by the Thanksgiving of the one leper and of us his children when we worship him. 

Blessed Thanksgiving to all and may God grant you and your loved ones peaceful rest from your labors.