Summary: Epilogue to the four message series on Treasure Principles. This message is about the importance of giving thanks and was preached the Sunday following Thanksgiving
Connecting With God
Habit of Life
A thankful spirit is one of the key distinguishing marks of a Christian. It sets us apart from the world, it makes us different.
In 21st-century America, we live in an entitlement culture. We have so much wealth as a society that we tend to take for granted things like food, and clothing and shelter.
Most people today consider a color television and a VCR to be necessities rather than luxuries. What we consider to be ‘poverty’ today is far above the quality of life that most people enjoyed a hundred years ago. From a material point of view, we’re better off now than we’ve ever been.
We take prosperity for granted. And the danger in that, for those who are seeking to follow Christ, is that it will dull our sense of gratitude and thankfulness toward God.
Because the more we have, the less we seem to appreciate it.
When you think of Thanksgiving, what do you think of?
In the past few years, vegetarians have been promoting an alternative to turkey, a tofu turkey, or “Tofurky”.
What else do you associate with Thanksgiving?
Families getting together. The kids playing ping pong in the basement. The grownups dozing off after dinner while they watch football on TV. Eating turkey sandwiches for supper (and lunch and dinner).
Well, what I’d like to do this morning is focus on what it really means to give thanks to God.
One who was Thankful
11 While Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he was going through the area between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he came into a small town, ten men who had a skin disease met him there. They did not come close to Jesus 13 but called to him, “Jesus! Master! Have mercy on us!”
14 When Jesus saw the men, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” n
As the ten men were going, they were healed. 15 When one of them saw that he was healed, he went back to Jesus, praising God in a loud voice. 16 Then he bowed down at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (And this man was a Samaritan.)
17 Jesus said, “Weren’t ten men healed? Where are the other nine? 18 Is this Samaritan the only one who came back to thank God?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go on your way. You were healed because you believed.”
Let’s set the scene here. Anyone with leprosy was forced to live outside the city, and was forbidden to have any close contact with other people, lest they spread the disease to others.
In this passage, the ten men are outside the village. They can’t get close to Jesus because of their disease, so they have to stand at a distance and yell to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus gives them a command, which they follow, and as they are walking, miraculously, all are healed of their disease.
Now here comes the interesting part. How do they respond? They must have been overjoyed! Perhaps some of them ran home to see their parents, their brothers and sisters, to embrace wives and children whom they hadn’t been able to visit or touch in years.
But only one had the presence of mind to return. Only one saw beyond the gift to the giver, only one came back and gave thanks. One out of ten.
What was the difference? The nine only cared about the healing. They didn’t care about the healer. Once their illness was cured, they had what they wanted. There was happiness and relief, I’m sure, at finally being free of their affliction. But there was no gratitude, no thankfulness, no appreciation. They just took the blessing and ran.
Only one gave thanks; only one had faith.
There are several conclusions one can draw from this story.
Giving God Thanks
Faith is the foundation of Thanksgiving
You may have faith that Jesus is able to do something for you – help you quite smoking, help you control your temper, help you do a better job of relating to your kids.
You may even be willing to follow His instructions, as these men did. You may even get what you seek from Him. But if that’s all the faith you have, then your faith is just the same as the nine lepers who didn’t return. It’s a willingness to trust in Jesus as a miracle-worker, but not as a Savior. Faith goes farther than simply using the object of our faith.
Gratitude and thankfulness are essential, because they cause us to return to Christ as the source of our blessings, rather than just seeking the blessing itself.
If there is little or no thankfulness, there is little or no faith.