A Lifestyle of Thanks-giving.
How quickly we turn the page from thanking God for our blessings to rushing about because Christmas is coming! Do not get me wrong—I love the season ...the recognition of Jesus’ birth, the lights, the carols, the boughs of holly and the anticipation of my children coming home. But, but--I should like to tarry a bit on thanks-giving.
Consider with me the following verses from Luke’s gospel. I am quite struck by them. As you read (or listen to) them, what stands out to you?
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17.11-19, ESV
Ten lepers—desperate men who found company only in each other. Leprosy is not something any of us have ever likely seen, yet it was mentioned 68 times in the Bible. Twas the scourge of the ancient world. Nothing evoked more fear, more dread, or more revulsion than the sight of these walking dead. That is what a leper was called, a walking dead man. The smell of his decaying flesh would announce his coming long before the tattered scraps of his clothing would be seen, or his raspy "Unclean! Unclean!" announcement he was required to declare, could be heard. The stumbling shuffle of toeless feet, the wandering of sightless eyes and the moan of a cheek-less mouth, all pointed to leprosy, the unseen attacker that slowly destroyed human bodies, and made the individual an untouchable to society.1
They knew that Jesus was a man of mercy who could heal them, so they boldly cried out to him. Filled with compassion for their dreadful state, Jesus responded. And the men seemed to have great faith--because when he told them to go and show themselves to the priest, (who alone had the authority to pronounce them well), they turned and went, before the healing had even happened!
Can't help but wonder about the state of their fingers, toes and feet . . . how did healing happen? Was it as they obeyed Jesus and were on the way to the priest--did they watch each other as their disease reversed itself? Huh. Normally these Jews would not be in the company of the Samaritan, but I guess it is true that 'misery loves company.' And once well, did the nine suddenly distance themselves from him? Yet, he—the Samaritan—was the only one who shouted and praised God loudly! He alone made it a priority to return to the Savior, falling at Jesus' feet to say, ‘thank you’. What a picture!
If you or I had been standing across the street, taking in the scene - one thing I would have noticed for sure. Jesus was greatly saddened that only one of the 10 turned around to thank him for the gift of new life.
Man, I want to be that thankful one! But am I? Are you?
You and I do not have leprosy, but we all have ‘things’ that deter, people who distract or medical conditions, for that matter, and different sorts of difficulties in our lives. And here's what I've noticed - it is easy to get less intentional in giving thanks to God. If I am ever mindful of the difficult thing, I rob God of the depth of my gratitude, and I rob myself too of the sweetness that exists when I maintain a disposition of thankfulness to God.
In the year 2015, I was stopped at a red light when a lady in an SUV did not, and plowed into the back of my sedan, damaging seven discs in my neck and back. Some five months later, still undergoing various kinds of treatment, I realized my physical pain caused me to think about myself way too much. And not only that--I think I lost my intention of living in gratitude for all of God's many blessings in my life. [Any sort of pain can steal life, joy and gratitude from us if we are unaware... can anybody relate?]
Instead, I propose a new way of living--let's create and then grow a lifestyle of gratitude. Why just think of all the things for which we can thank God!
Grab a piece of paper and write at the top:
“Thank You, God, for—" and then start listing things.
I will give you a head start:
Thank you, God, for-- (start listing, in no certain order or priority, just random)
Thank you, God, for--
--beauty in the sunrise
--love of my children
keep a list going!
In breathing out prayers to God each morning, besides an ‘asking’ section, I start with praising him—I mean, how great is our God that he should love us! How good and merciful that he should forgive us.
And I finish my prayers by thanking God, specifically naming that for which I have to be so grateful to him. After all, ‘every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above’.2
This is so good... Thank You, Lord, the Katinas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ArAfC6cFX4
An intentional lifestyle of thanks,
1 – “What was Leprosy in the Bible?” Christianity.com, May 17, 2019.
2 – James 1.17