Summary: Charles E. Jefferson said, "If Christians would praise God more the world would doubt Him less." Let us admit it that we seldom make it known how grateful we are to be Christians by our praise of God and thanksgiving before the world.
Thanksgiving is unconditional for the believer. We are not to be thankful only because of
blessings, but even in spite of burdens, for life at its worst does not change the most precious
truth for which we are to be thankful, and that is salvation through Jesus. There have been
Christian people who have nothing of great value materially, and they have known nothing
of a Thanksgiving Day, since this is uniquely American, but who never the less have had a
We need to remember that Thanksgiving grew out of a tragic situation because of people
of God who put their trust in Him in spite of tragedy. Half of the Pilgrims died the first
winter in America. Their crop was so poor they had to ration out 5 grains of corn at a time.
At one point there were only 7 of them who were not sick to help the rest of them. And yet
these are the people who gave us Thanksgiving. Their faith did not waver with the winds of
fortune. They labored 7 years to pay back loans to London bankers where they got the
money to come to America.
Elder Brewster in the early days of Plymouth could set down to a meal of clams and a
cup of cold water, and look up to heaven and return thanks, "For the abundance of the sea
and for the treasures hid in the sand." God prospered the Pilgrims because they had
grateful hearts even in the midst of great difficulties. Gratitude can even grow in the garden
of grief when watered with the showers of trust in God. Robert Louis Stevenson spent most
of life in bed with much pain, and he died at 44, but he saw more to be thankful for than most
healthy people. He wrote, "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all
be as happy as kings." Sometimes those who are most blest are most blind. They spend
their days in complaining and lose the greatest blessings because they lack a grateful heart.
We want to look at a biblical example of this as found in the account of the healing of the 10
lepers. We see here 3 aspects of gratitude.
I. THE RARENESS OF GRATITUDE. v. 17-18
Here were 10 men in awful misery who experienced the blessing of almighty mercy, and
yet 9 of them never came back to say thanks. If Jesus had only 10 per cent express their
gratitude for a miracle, how much less must he have received for common mercies? How
little does he receive from us for every day blessings? Does he receive more than puddles of
praise for the ocean waves of mercy he causes to splash against the shore of our lives?
Spurgeon said, "If you search the world around among all choice spices you shall scarcely
meet with the frankincense of gratitude." Why is this? Here are a number of reasons:
A. SELFISHNESS. From the minute a person is born he is self-centered. All of life revolves
around a child, and what makes him happy is good, and what does not is bad. You can have
fun with a child doing everything he wants for hours, but then refuse him one thing his heart
desires and he becomes angry and charges you with meanness. It is tragic when adults
exhibit this same ungrateful attitude. Albert Schweitzer tells of how difficult it was to teach
the natives that they had to help keep up the hospital by giving a chicken, a few eggs, or some
bananas. Some of the more savage people came to him after they were cured and demanded
a gift of him. Paul in Rom. 1:21 tells us that one of the causes for the darkness of the pagan
mind and heart was that they were not thankful.
This natural selfishness is a part of the civilized world as well. People with great
abundance are constantly more concerned about what they don't have than thankful for
what they do have. When Andrew Carnegie left a million dollars to a relative that relative
cursed him saying, "Old Andy left 365 million to public charities and cut me off with one
measly million." Such ingratitude seems incredible, but it reveals that the ungrateful heart
loses even the blessings that it does have. I can just imagine that those 9 who did not return
were discouraged within a couple of days. They would be complaining that their leprosy put
them so far behind in their work. They would complain that its hard now to get their crop inon time, or fill that pottery order they had before they got sick. Even a dog will wag its tail
at a kindness shown, but these selfish 9 did not even take the time to say thank you.