By Richard Lim
One of the most important qualities we can develop as a Christian is that of “Thankfulness!” For the Christian this characteristic should not be an option but rather should be a major quality in our life!!
We read of a familiar story in the Bible in Luke 17:11-19 concerning the healing of the ten lepers. In Jesus’ day, people who had leprosy which was a disease to be considered as highly contagious were ostracized from the rest of society. They were viewed as unclean. Not only did a leper have to deal with the painful disease, but they also were cut off from their family, friends, and community. Given those hardships, when someone, like Jesus, came around and was able to offer hope of cleansing, the ten lepers leaped at the opportunity to benefit from it. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Notice that at this juncture Jesus didn’t actually heal them there and then, but merely just sent them on their way to the priests. The priests were the ones who would have the final say on whether or not the disease was actually gone and whether or not they could be welcomed back into society according to the old Law in stated in Leviticus 13 & 14. So, for the ten lepers, the healing should have been a foregone conclusion, and it was. They trusted that Jesus would heal them because there were no questions asked of Jesus, there were no comments of, “But…” recorded for us. Jesus says “Go…” And… they went. As they went, something happened, their disease was cured. They were clean again. Out of the ten that were healed, only one came back to thank Jesus and he was a Samaritan. Jesus then queried “where are the nine?”
Here we can see how Jesus felt about people who are truly thankful. Do we realize that Jesus is taking note of how full or how empty our heart is of gratitude? Though He never commanded that any of them express thankfulness to God, or return to him, the healer, nevertheless Jesus expected it. This one man that showed gratitude prioritized thankingGod for the gift of cleansing.
The question for us is how often is thanksgiving a priority in our lives? How often do we give thanks to the people around us? As students, when was the last time you thanked your teacher for his or her work for you? As employees, when did you last thank your employers? Employers, when did you last thank your employees? Children, when did you last thank your parents for what they do to take care of you? Parents, when did you take the time to praise and thank your children for the good behavior? What about the brethren who have served tirelessly in the church? As we think through a list like this, we’re likely to find gaps in our lives of thanksgiving.
We don’t often thank those around us who serve us, help us, lead us, and direct us. It’s not that we don’t appreciate them, per se, but we’re busy. We have things to do. You know, perhaps we are just like the ten lepers, we’ve got to get to the priests; we don’t have time to go back for thanksgiving. Brethren, a gesture of thanks goes a long way to those people around us.
The Bible in 1 Thess. 5: 18 tells us to give thanks for everything. When are we to be thankful? Are we thankful in good circumstances only or can we be thankful in difficult circumstances? Many times we offer thanksgiving to God only after our prayers have been answered! In Dan. 6:10 it reads “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”
When the decreed was declared, Daniel went home to pray and “GAVE THANKS TO GOD AS WAS HIS CUSTOM” … IN the midst of trouble even when no answers were in sight Daniel still gave thanks to God in prayer!
For many of us our prayers at such a moment would have consisted mainly of requests and petitions to the Lord but Daniel’s prayers were mostly THANKSGIVING! He gave thanks before the answers came. This was the great secret to Daniel’s life of power and victory!
We are told in “Philippians 4:6 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” When we do this, the result would be peace of mind, Philippians 4:7 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Indeed our faith would be revolutionized and our complaints diminished if we took seriously this command in 1 Thess. 5:18 which is “THANKFUL IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES!”
How often are we to give thanks? Ephesians 5:20 “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
It is very clear that God doesn’t want our lives to be like those of this world. Paul when writing to the church at Rome tells of those of the world who were unthankful in Romans 1:21 “because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Also in 2 Timothy 3:2 “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,”
It is very clear from both of these passages, that the easiest way to fall away from God is to become an unthankful person.
From the writings of Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-15 we can see that he was indeed a very thankful person: 12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptances, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
Why do we give thanks to God? 1 Thess. 5:18b FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS FOR YOU. Let us therefore do His will by being a thankful person in all things.
Let us not lose out on one of the most important qualities in our Christian life…..that of THANKFULNESS