Thanks For The Indescribable Gift

Next week our nation will be observing the Thanksgiving holiday. In my opinion, out of all the things worth celebrating, thankfulness is one of the best. The Jews were commanded to celebrate the feast of booths which was a harvest holiday focusing on worship and thankfulness. They had much to be thankful for in their history (God bringing them through the wilderness to the promised land) much like we do. I wanted to take a moment to write about the importance of taking time to say thank you.

            In Luke 17:11-19 Luke records a brief encounter Jesus has with 10 lepers. Leprosy was a devastating and disfiguring disease. It meant isolation from friends and family, pain and misery, and exclusion from the worship services at the temple. Though it has been decades since there were leper colonies in this country they still exist in many parts of the world. In fact, when I visited the Philippines I learned of a leper colony there that is so large they have their own economy and currency separate from their nation. There is even a faithful church made up of believers with leprosy. These men in Luke 17 begged Jesus for mercy standing at a distance. Jesus sent them to the priests and on the way they discovered that they had been healed. What an amazing miracle! Not only were hey physically healthy but now they could rejoin their families and their communities. I can’t imagine their joy.

            What is most remarkable in the story comes from the unexpected reactions to being healed. Nine of the healed (who were Jewish) never turned around. Only one, a Samaritan (hated by the Jews) is noted as glorifying God, worshipping, and giving thanks. I’m sure all 10 were joyous at their cleansing but only one attached thankfulness to His joy. Jesus remarks on this fact and tells this man that his faith has made him well. Joy and thankfulness should always go together.

            The truth is that all of humanity suffers from something far worse than leprosy. Leprosy at worst can kill the body; sin can kill the soul. Jesus died on the cross so that we could be saved from this fate. The idea that I can be saved from spiritual death should make me greatly joyful. What do I do with the joy? Have I really changed my life because of the gift? Have I shared my joy with others? Have I helped lead them to the same joy? Am I committed to worshipping through prayers, songs, and generous giving because of what has been done for me?

            I wanted to end by discussing a group of Christians who understood thankfulness. The churches of Macedonia were incredibly poor. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 we find that despite their deep poverty they gave an extraordinary amount to help other needy saints. They gave themselves first to the Lord, then to others. Christ’s gift to us is directly tied to how we give to others. If we are truly thankful for His gift of life then there is no limit to what we will be willing to give for others. So here is where we can start asking the personal questions. Have you been saved by Christ? If so, how have you said thank you? Does your worship life show it? Does your giving life show it? Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15)