‘Tell us one thing you are thankful for before we eat’. How many times have you heard that? How many times have you been the one to initiate this dialogue on Thanksgiving as the turkey sits on the table getting cold?
If you are anything like me, I would just spit out the first thing that came to mind to get it over with. Reflecting on what I’m thankful for isn’t exactly one of my spiritual gifts. Basically, what I’m saying is, I suck at giving thanks to God for the million things I could be thankful for.
There’s a story found in Luke 17 where Jesus has an encounter with ten men who have leprosy. They shouted at Jesus from the distance to have pity on them. Why would they start the conversation like this?
In the first century Hebrew world, if you had leprosy, it was understood that you were being punished for a sin you committed according to the Old Testament. Also, because they had leprosy, you would have been considered ceremonially unclean and told to isolate from the general public. So, these men would have found community with others who also have leprosy, but the reason they were shouting from the distance was that they weren’t allowed to walk up to Jesus and interact with the public.
Their cry for Jesus to have pity on them was because of their contagious condition, and the public perception that they were ‘sinners’.
In this story, Jesus responds by telling them to go show themselves to the priest who could deem them as ‘clean’ if they didn’t show signs of leprosy. As the ten of them proceeded to the priest, they were cleansed of this condition. I’m sure they had been praying and hoping for this moment for a very long time. However, the way they responded was interesting.
One of the ten decided to go back to Jesus, praising Him and throwing himself at Jesus’ feet and thanking Him because he recognized this was the result of God’s good work. This one man didn’t take it for granted. He recognized it and responded by verbally thanking Jesus.
Jesus then asked where the other nine were. The other nine proceeded on with their own life. They most likely went to the priest, were deemed as clean and quickly went on their way giving no recognition to Jesus.
As much as I hate to say it, I am much more like the nine men that forgot to thank God and give Him the glory.
As men, I think this is an area in our life we can all do a little better in – simply thanking God. When you reflect on this story and the many other people in the Bible who responded thankfully to God; this isn’t a foreign concept. We see men were very capable of giving thanks but I have come to learn it’s a discipline many of us need to develop.
God gives you a million reasons to be thankful every day, so I encourage you to respond like that one man who had been healed of leprosy and went out of his way to thank Jesus for what He has done.