Gratitude is an Attitude
One day a woman was rushing home from a doctor’s appointment. The doctor had been somewhat delayed at the hospital, and the lab work took a little longer than usual so by the time she left the clinic she was running quite a bit behind schedule.
She still had to pick up her prescription, pick up the children from the baby-sitter, and get home and make supper, all in time to make it to the prayer meeting at her church that evening.
As she began to circle the busy Wal-Mart parking lot, looking for a space, the windows of heaven were opened, as it says in Genesis, and a downpour began.
While she wasn’t usually the type to bother God with small problems, she began to pray as she turned down the row closest to the front door. "Lord, you know what kind of a day I’ve had, and there’s still an awful lot to do. Could you please grant me a parking space right away, oh, and close to the building so I don’t get soaked."
The words weren’t even completely out of her mouth when she saw the backup lights of a car come on at the end of the row. It was the best space in the whole parking lot, right next to the handicap spots and straight out from the front door. She made straight for it and as she pulled in, she said, "never mind God, something just opened up."
How many times do we ask God for something, and then when we receive it, we behave as though it were quite an unusual coincidence, and we fail to give credit where credit is due?
How is gratitude defined - Gratitude - Natural expression of thanks in response to blessings, protection, or love.
Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
The healing of the 10 (Ten) lepers reminds me of The story of Naaman and Elijah. (2 Kings 5:1-19)
Naaman was a leper and knew he was going to die. You remember the story: Naaman finally finds the prophet, Elijah, who sends his servant out to tell this leper to go and dip himself seven times in the Jordan River. No dramatics. No fireworks. Just a word to obey. It seemed too easy: simply wash and be clean. But it was God’s Word. And as he obeyed, Naaman was made clean of his leprosy.
It was the same with the ten. They were sick with an incurable disease, they were marked as untouchables, kicked out of fellowship with anyone except other lepers. They begged at a distance for anything and everything they needed. It may have been just a long distance prayer, but that cry was heard. The response from Jesus was just a command. But it was a response. Jesus heard.
It says they met Christ as he entered into a certain village. They didn’t wait until he had something to eat or drink, but met him as he entered the town. And tired as he was, He responded.
Jesus gives them an assignment within the law. He tells them: "Go and show yourselves to the priests!" I can imagine that these men were probably confused; They knew they were leprous. They might have examined their hands, noticing that the flesh was still decayed. They saw no change. They had felt nothing. They couldn’t go see the priest like that! Yet they could not be re-admitted to society until they did!
They might have thought, “Well, I don’t seem to be healed, but I’ll do what He said.” So they shrugged their shoulders and started walking toward the city to present themselves to the priests.
But, you know, God often chooses to answer our prayers as a result of our own obedience.
And so we read, “As they went, they were made clean.”
They looked at their hands, and the skin was restored. They stroked their faces, and the sores had been healed. They peeked under the bandages, and the signs of decay had disappeared! Their fingertips and ears were back.
“. . . they were made clean.”
Ten people that day received the benefits of God’s grace! Ten people were reached by the love of God, and made legally and ceremonially clean.
But nine of them kept on going without a backward glance. Luke 17:15ff then says,
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
It seems they never thought of the God-connection; never thought of giving thanks to God. Why didn’t they return to give thanks?’’ This indicates to me that ingratitude is a very common sin.
This Samaritan leper closed the circle of grace that day of his cleansing.
Instead of focusing on his illness, and his very considerable pain, now he worshiped the God who had set him free.
And that gratitude completed his healing. As he worshiped he was made whole.
In the Old Testament story Naaman passed the gratitude test as well. He didn’t want to obey the simple command to wash and be clean. But then as he obeyed he was cleansed; and to his credit he didn’t rush back to Syria shouting and celebrating. Instead he returned to the home of Elijah to give thanks.
Because of his gratitude, there was an extra healing for this tenth leper; when Jesus said your faith has made you well, He is probably talking about God’s work in the man’s heart. The other lepers had whole bodies, but sick hearts
Now I guess we’ll never really know… but here some possibilities why the other nine didn’t return:
1. Maybe one waited to see if the cure was real.
2. Maybe one waited to see if it would last.
3. Maybe one said he would go see Jesus later.
4. Maybe one decided that he had better see the priest before Jesus changed His mind.
5. Maybe one said he would have gotten well anyway.
6. Maybe one gave the credit to the priests.
7. Maybe one said, “Jesus didn’t really do anything. All He did was tell me to go…”
8. Maybe one said, “Any rabbi could have done that.”
9. Maybe one said, “I was already getting better anyway.”
God also notices our lack of gratitude. I am bothered by Presidents as of late who at the end of their speeches say “And God Bless the United States of America.” And I wonder, why should He? What have we done to deserve His blessings?
We’ve kicked Him out of our schools. We kicked Him out of our Government buildings. Our society’s morals continue to spiral downhill in drugs, pornography, killings, greed, self-servitude, … we sacrifice babies to the god of convince and call it our choice to do so.
In one episode of the TV cartoon show, "The Simpson’s," the boy, Bart, is asked to say grace. He prays, "Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing." Who says TV doesn’t reflect our culture?
Why should “God Bless America” if we refuse to bless him or even acknowledge Him or His exsistance? We forget, too often, what He has done for us. He gave his only son to die for OUR sins, to take OUR blame, OUR shame upon His shoulders. And what do we do in return? We ask for His blessing! No gratitude. No Gee, thanks, God. I really appreciate what you’ve done for me. THANKS!!!
You know “thanks” is a HUGE word.
Rudyard Kipling’s words not only made him famous but also brought him a fortune. A newspaper reporter came up to him once and said, "Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over one hundred dollars a word.”
The reporter reached into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred-dollar bill and gave it to Kipling and said, “Here’s a one hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now you give me one of your hundred dollar words.”
Rudyard Kipling looked at the money, put it in his pocket and said, "Thanks!"
The word "thanks" is certainly a one hundred dollar word. That has power, when used with a truly grateful heart.
When that little word is missing, we feel it deeply. You know what it’s like when someone doesn’t say "thanks" – you feel hurt, used, ignored, and taken for granted and you wonder why you bothered to do something for the person in the first place.
Unfortunately, ingratitude has become a way of life for many people. We find it very difficult to say thank you.
I am reminded of a story about an old man suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The disease made writing difficult for him since he couldn’t keep his hands still.
One day he asked a young man at the post office counter to write a postcard for him. The man said sure and wrote what the old man dictated to him, and he even signed the man’s name to the postcard. When he finished he asked the old man, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” The old man looked at the card, thought for a moment, and then answered, “Yes. At the end, could you just put ‘P.S. Please excuse the bad handwriting!”
It doesn’t cost anything to show our gratitude by saying thank you. We have received so much. Christ meets our need no matter how wretched our condition, no matter how unclean or unworthy we are, and no matter how hopeless our situation may seem.
The least we can do is to say thank you. Have you thanked Him for forgiving and healing you? Have you thanked him for cleaning your from your spiritual lepersy?
We, as Christians, have so much to be thankful for. Let’s be like the Samaritan leper and show the world what true gratitude is really like. And if we do this, then maybe, just maybe, God really will bless America.