Thanksgiving: It’s about a grateful heart
November 23, 2004
Whenever I consider the quality of giving THANKS, somehow my attention sooner or later turns to Jesus’ response to the ingratitude he experienced in Luke 17:11-19. You’ll recall that ten lepers were healed, but only one of them — a Samaritan — returned to express gratitude. I see evidence of the same thing today; we are missing an “attitude of gratitude.”
Jesus was certainly disappointed. We see that in his response, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Let me offer some principles of thanksgiving in two balancing truths for our lives.
First, it is a proper and necessary character quality of a Christian to have a grateful spirit. Be quick to express your thanks to the Lord and to others. When I reflect on the hunger and oppression found in the nations of the rest of the world, it is easy for my heart to be filled with gratitude and thanksgiving to our God.
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thess 5:18.
“Give thanks to the LORD,” is an expression found no less than 19 times in the Bible (NIV). Its repetition tells me it is important!
Secondly, when you express a kindness toward someone in the form of a deed or gift, be sure you have your expectation of reward firmly set on God alone and NOT from another person. Do not expect a thankful heart from another person.
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him,” Ps 62:5 (kjv).
Anything else will frustrate you and even lead to a bitter spirit. Why? If you expect a positive response to your acts of kindness and don’t get it, you will become angry and eventually bitter. Built into our flesh is a desire to fulfill “self.” We are “self-ish” people. The old flesh in us will say, “I deserve to be thanked!” If you are not thanked, then you become angry.
Consider an even larger picture of your life. If you receive your rewards on earth, what will you have in heaven?
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven … Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matt 6:1-4
I would suggest that you look for opportunities to “give praise to God” and offer Thanksgiving up to Him in word, deed and action. We can do so joyfully because Scripture says, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Cor 9:15. Concern yourself with your proper responses to the goodness of God and do not look to others for reward.
Thanksgiving holidays are said to be the time of year when more people in the United States are traveling than at any other time of the year. I imagine a lot of it is due to families going to spend time with other family members. It is the annual trip to Grandma’s house. This Thanksgiving, when you sit down at your family feast, look around the table and ask, “Which of my family members and friends around this table do not know Jesus Christ as Savior?” Pray for them during the whole day. Then tell them about Christ. No one will come to Christ due to your acts of kindness. People come to Christ only by hearing the Word of God. Consider Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
A certain way to express gratitude to Jesus Christ for His unspeakable gift would be telling lost family and friends about how grateful you are for Him! I promise you will make it one of the most memorable Thanksgivings you will have experienced. Have a great and glorious Thanksgiving Day with your friends and loved ones.