You’re visiting at Auntie’s home. She gives your child a treat. What do you say? Every parent knows the routine. “What do you tell Auntie, honey?” We work hard at trying to get our children to understand the importance of saying, “Thank You.” We all too often know the feeling of doing something for someone and never hearing those special two words in return.
How many times have we prayed for God to come through in a given situation and, after He did, we fail to offer up a single word of thanks? We need to put as much emphasis into thanking God for what He has done as we put into pleading with God when we are in need.
Several years ago our family devotional time at Thanksgiving focused on the parable of the ten lepers that were healed in Luke 17:11-19. After Jesus healed the ten, only one came back to Christ and fell at his feet to give thanks. Our Lord then said, “Where are the other nine?”
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
We discussed as a family how often we pray and ask God for things but seldom demonstrate a spirit of gratitude and thanks with the same intensity that we come before the Lord with our original request. A lack of thanksgiving exposes our hidden thoughts that God is somehow obligated to meet our wants. He’s our own personal bellboy in the sky.
Luke states that the ten lepers asked Christ from a distance. Once healed, they received no more blessing! The one who returned thanks was the only one to experience the closeness of Christ. Jesus announced, “Your faith has made you well.” The “wellness” Jesus spoke of was beyond the original request. Jesus addresses the deeper inner need that this former leper didn’t even realize he had. The other nine missed out. The one that returned experienced internal cleansing and a spiritual closeness to the Savior.
An attitude of thanksgiving is not just a perfunctory “thank you.” They are words from a heart that falls at the feet of Jesus and draws one into a spiritual inner awareness of their dependence upon Him. My prayer for us this Thanksgiving is that we express a real thanksgiving that draws us close to the One who has blessed us beyond whatever we could dream of or hope for.
“In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – I Thessalonians 5:18
Dirke has his doctorate in Church Leadership and is a professor for the Ministry Degree program at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He also teaches at Cru’s Institute of Biblical Studies. He specializes in Leader Development, creating high performing teams and has years of experience at ministering in urban cross-cultural and international contexts.