It seems now, more than ever, the voices of ingratitude are incredibly loud. People tend to dwell on the negative and ignore the positive. Conversations lean toward what is wrong instead of what is right and so many are living with a gray cloud hanging over their heads. Is anyone thankful and saying so?
For the child of God, thankfulness is not confined to a day or a season, it is an attitude that we should have everyday and every hour. Living life grateful should be the mark of every believer.
Jesus told a story in Scripture that illustrates the tragedy of the ungrateful heart.
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, Jesus, Master, have pity on us! Luke 17:11-13 (NIV)
To grasp the full impact of this story, you must understand that leprosy was one of the cruelest, most repulsive incurable diseases of Jesus’ time. Leprosy was and still is a disease that eats away human flesh which causes the person to feel helpless, hopeless, and totally isolated.
Although their pain at times was unbearable, the emotional emptiness lepers experienced was even more excruciating. Not only because of their horrific appearance but also because their condition was so contagious, that the infected people were banned from society and forced to live outside cities in leper colonies. Anytime anyone approached a leper, the diseased victim had to shout, “Unclean, unclean!” warning approaching people of his condition.
You can imagine how difficult it would be to go weeks, months, years, or even decades without a touch, a hug, or an embrace.
It’s no wonder that after hearing about the miracles of Jesus, when the lepers saw Jesus approaching, they shouted at the top of their lungs, “Help us! Please help us! Have pity on us!”
In his mercy, Jesus showed the lepers compassion.
When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a “Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17:14-18 (NIV)
Ten lepers suffered desperately.
Ten lived in dire need of help.
Ten pleaded and begged for mercy.
Ten were healed.
But only one returned to offer thanks.
Their lives, their relationships, their potential, and their destinies were forever altered by the Son of God, but nine couldn’t find the time or make the effort to express love, worship, or gratitude.
Only one returned to offer thanks. Nine received the answer to their greatest prayers and ignored the One who gave it.
Have you ever gone through a lot of inconvenience to do something special for someone, but they barely acknowledged your effort?
You thought of every detail.
You made everything just right.
You worked like crazy to surprise someone, bless someone, honor someone and they didn’t say thank you? Of course you didn’t do it to be rewarded, but an acknowledgment would have been nice.
Imagine how God feels when he gives us life, his love, his presence, his blessings, his Son and we ignore him, continuing to do our own thing. Or perhaps we’re a bit more gracious and we did give Him our sincere thanks, but over time, our frequency of expression has turned into more of—"what have you done for me lately."
I remember the first time I heard Matt Redman's song called “Blessed Be Your Name.” one particular phase stuck out to me.“Every blessing you pour out, I’ll turn back to praise.” To cultivate an attitude of gratitude, we should turn everything good in our lives into an opportunity to worship. When we do, we’re acknowledging the giver of the gifts.
The Bible says in James,
“Every good and perfect gift is from above.” James 1:17 (NIV)
Since anything good we have comes from God, why not give God the credit?
When we turn blessings to praise, we cultivate gratitude. We’re training our hearts to become constantly aware of God’s goodness.
Any blessing we don’t turn back to praise turns into pride. We think we earned it, deserved it, or are worthy of it. That’s pride. And pride breaks God’s heart. He opposes the proud. The good news is that God gives grace to the humble. Just as pride repels God, praise delights him.
I’m praying that when nine don’t return to offer thanks, you’ll be the one who does. You’ll worship God, thanking him for who he is and what he’s done. You’ll be overwhelmed with a heart full of praise. His Name will always be on your lips. Gratitude will overflow from your heart.
As you learn to worship him, content in all things through Christ, your attitude of gratitude will be evident to everyone who comes into contact with you. Even now, I’m certain you know some people who have blessed you, encouraged you, inspired you, or believed in you.
WILL YOU BE THE ONE THAT SAYS "THANK YOU?"
Will you be the one to write the thank-you note to the person who served you or gave you a gift?
Will you be the one to express gratitude to a teacher or coach who made a difference in your life?
Will you be the one to send an email or a text or to call to express your gratitude to someone who encouraged you or lifted you?
Unlike any other virtue, living with gratitude can change the way you experience your life. Give God thanks for all that you have.
Be the One and live life grateful.