I’ve been thinking this week about the story of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. (Luke 17) You may remember that story. Although ten men were healed, only one returned to give thanks. Just one!
It is sort of shocking that only one man gave thanks. Why not the others? What happened to them? Did they forget? Did they feel Jesus owed them something? Were they distracted by other things?
While the bible doesn’t tell us why those ten didn’t return to give thanks, it certainly reminds us of the importance of a thankful spirit. Note verses like these: “Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:18) “…giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20)
Maybe the math of this story is also instructive. Only one in ten gave thanks. Is that the way it is today? Only about 10%? If so, are you in the majority or the minority on the subject of thankfulness? Are you part of the crowd who forgets to be thankful? Or, will you be the thankful one?
Let me list three ways for you to buck the odds and be the thankful one.
1. Count your blessings. One way to be the thankful one is to spend some time counting how many blessings you already have. Are you aware of how much God has already done for you? Have you noted your many blessings lately? Or are you so focused on your problems that you seem unable to note your blessings?
The simple task of writing down your blessings can make you aware of how many blessings you already possess. I wonder if those nine lepers got so focused on their skin problems they forgot about any blessings? How about just spending a few minutes writing out ways God has blessed you? The more you write, the more you remember. The more you remember, the more you begin to be thankful. It works!
2. Check your attitude. For that matter, check your theology. God does not owe you blessings. It would not be grace if you had earned your salvation. It wouldn’t be mercy if forgiveness was due you. How thankful we ought to be that we don’t get the judgment and condemnation that we deserve!
Blessings would not be blessings if we deserved them; they would just be our payment. But we don’t deserve them. Understanding that changes our attitude from one of entitlement to one of thankfulness. If you want to be the thankful one, you will need to know this.
3. Change your focus. Maybe some fail to be thankful because they are just too distracted. The thankful one is focused on what God has done. He remembers what Jesus did for him. The unthankful crowd is focused on all kinds of other things– social media and hobbies and errands and… well, there is no end to things to keep us from being thankful.
But the thankful one remembers. Isn’t this part of why we take the Lord’s Supper– to remember and refocus? And, by remembering and refocusing, we think to thank. We become thankful for what Jesus has done and remember his love. We become the thankful ones.
Let’s choose to be the thankful ones today. Let’s make a conscious choice to come to the feet of Jesus and thank him for what he has done. Maybe others will forget. Maybe it will be more popular and gain more attention for us to complain instead of thank. But, this day, let’s choose the better way, the right way and the bible way.
Be the thankful one.