Are You Truly Thankful?

Are You Truly Thankful?

Luke17:11-19“11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled alongthe border between Samaria and Galilee.12Ashe was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance13andcalled out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”14Whenhe saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests” And asthey went, they were cleansed.15Oneof them, when he saw he was healed, cameback, praising God in a loud voice.16Hethrew himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him and he was a Samaritan.17Jesusasked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?18Wasno one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”19Thenhe said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”{{more}}Just two short years ago, Citibank started an advertising campaign on television for their new line of credit cards. This line of cards carries rewards or prizes that you can receive forusing the card. It is just their way of saying “Thank you” to the customer for choosing to use their card.One of the commercials, which I found quite humorous, involved two ladies inthe grocery store. The one lady puts her hand on the stomach of the other and asks her when the baby is due. The woman then looks at her and says, “I am not pregnant.” Not knowing what else to say, the woman replies, “Thank you.” With this simple reply, the offended woman forgets the insulting words that were just uttered, and the two ladies embrace. Citibank then flashes their slogan across the screen that states, “It is amazing what a simple thank you can do.”Amen!It is amazing what a simple thank you can do. How many of you have been uplifted by receiving a thank you note from someone you have helped along the way? I recently received a CD from one of my friends in college. He has just started out in the Christian music business, and he sent me a copy of his disc. On the CD, he wrote the following phrase. “Thank you for letting me borrow your guitar when we were in college.”That thank you made my day. He was grateful even for something small I haddone. To tell you the truth, I had actually forgotten that I ever lent him aguitar, but his thankfulness for this small event made me smile all day.Even though there are some peoplelike my friend who truly are thankful in all things, most people are only thankful when they have to be. This goes for Christians as well. That is a terrible thing to have to say, but it is the truth. Why else would we have tohave a special day to offer thanksgiving? If we gave thanks all the time like we should, there would be no need to have this holiday. I do not believe thatwe are ungrateful and unthankful on purpose. I think we are because it is our nature as humans to take things for granted and it is nothing new. People were not thankful in Jesus’ day either. In Luke, chapter 17, we are told about an event that warranted thanks.  Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him and he was a Samaritan.Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said tohim, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well. This week, I want to take a look at three aspects of thankfulness that we need to glean from this Scripture. Let’s ask the Lord to bless our time.Aspect #1: There are no good excuses for unthankfulness.We as Americans love to make excuses. After all, nothing is ever our fault. No one in jail has ever committed a crime. It was always someone else’s fault when a little child gets in trouble, they will always blame it on another person. When a politician gets in a bind, they will always find something else to pin the blame on.One of my favorite excuses of all time was in a popular lawsuit filed a few years back. A woman spilled her McDonald’s coffee on her lap and got burned. Then, she sued the company for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was not her fault that the coffee spilled and burned her even though she was the only one in the car. It was the fault of McDonalds because their hot coffee was too hot. Even though she would have probably have complained if the coffee was too cold, she won this lawsuit. Even though it was entirely her fault, McDonald’s had to take the blame because she had a good enough excuse in the eyes of the judge. Making excuses is nothing new. Think about the first humans on the planet. They are told not to eat of the fruit of a certain tree. Then, they both do and have to face God. God comes to them, and he asks what has happened. He first approaches Adam, and what does Adam do? He makes an excuse. “It’s not my fault. The woman you put here with me made me do it.” Then, when God gets to Eve, she makes anexcuse. “The talking snake tricked me into doing it. It’s not my fault.” These excuses seemed valid, but God does not buy excuses. God had told them not to eat, but they did anyhow. Even though they had excuses lined up, God punished Adam and Eve because excuses were not enough.In our story of the ten lepers, the nine that were not thankful probably had excuses that they thought were good for not coming back to thank Jesus. They may have gone something like this: “The first one waited to see if the healing was real. The second one waited to see if it would last.The third said he would go to thank Jesus later. The fourth decided that he must have never had leprosy. The fifth said he would have gotten well anyways. The sixth one gave the glory to the priests. The seventh one reasoned that Jesus didn’t do anything anyway. The eighth one proclaimed that any Rabbi could have done this. The ninth one said, “I was already much improved.”Now,I  have no way of knowing if this is what they thought for sure, but knowing how we are as humans, we can easily assume that they were like this. We love making excuses for not doing the things we should, but those excuses do not fly with Jesus. When the one truly thankful leper came back to Jesus, Jesus honored him; however, Jesus did ask, “Where are the other nine?” Jesus expected every one ofthem to be thankful, and he expects that of Christians today. Aspect #2: Everyone has something to be thankful for.As I was searching for information for this sermon, I came across a newspaper article in the St. Petersburg Times. In this article, some of the local children made out lists of what they were thankful for. Here were some of the highlights.    • I am thankful for my family because they love me and give me food – Andrew, age 10    • I am thankful for flowers and trees, oh so tall, for our van to go places, especially the mall – Victoria,age 9    • I am thankful for our furry little squirrels that bring great happiness to our lives – Ryan, age 7    • I am thankful for thanksgiving because I like to eat ham – Maria, age 5    • I am thankful that my dad has a permanent job and my brother is in remission from Leukemia – Anastasia, age 10    • I am thankful for Thanksgiving because it is a happy holiday, and it’s when families get together and have a time of celebrating God’s goodness. The Pilgrims are a good example to me because no matter how hard things go, God is always with you and will providefor all your needs. When God provided for them, they did not forget him, but praised him with thanksgiving – Natalie, age 10I hope you are as impressed as I am with the wisdom shown by this 10 year old. She gets the picture of what God wants. God wants us to be thankful in all circumstances because we all have something to be thankful for. If we call ourselves Christians, we have even more yet to be thankful for. Jesus Christ came to earth and took our place on the cross. We should have gone there to pay the penalty for our sins, but he was blameless and took our place so that we might live. Now, all we have to do is believe and trust in Him as our Savior,and our slate will be wiped clean. We do not have to pay the price of death. He already did that. That act alone should be enough to make us thankful for allthe days of our lives. But, God does not stop there. He continues to bless us every day and we take it for granted. Think about it this way. A friend sent me an email that teaches thankfulness to its recipients. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place,you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the millions who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation,you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. If you can attend church meetings without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion in the world. Amen!And, if your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, evenin the United States. I do not think I need to go on any further. We are ablessed people with much to be thankful for. We must be a more thankful people.Aspect #3: We as Christians need to setthe bar for thankfulnessGeorge Gallop reports that 84% of Americans claim to be Christians. Of those 84%, less than 10 % of Americans are deeply committed Christians. These committed Christians are far, far happier than the rest of the population.Committed Christians are more accepting of others than the average American;more involved in charitable activities, and are absolutely committed to prayer.While many more Americans than this 10 % profess to be Christians, mostactually know little or nothing of Christian beliefs, and act no differentlythan non-Christians.What is the problem with this picture? Christians are called to be set apart from the world, yet only 10% of the population is acting that way. This leaves an astounding 74% of Americans that claim to be Christians and yet act no differently than those not claiming to be Christians. Is it any wonder why thechurch is not growing?As Jesus healed these ten lepers, most of them were Jews. They were God-fearing,church going people.They belonged to the moral majority and were known as the people of God. However,when they were healed, only one leper returned to give thanks, and this leper was a Samaritan. Samaritans did not go to church in this day because they were looked upon as outcasts and low lifes. The church people of the day wanted nothing to do with any of them because they were not worth the time of one of God’s chosen ones. Yet, he is the only one who showed thanks. When the church should have been setting the bar of thankfulness, the world was actually leading the way.The same is true today. Think of some of the Christians you know. They are bitter and mean. They never think of anyone but themselves. They are proud, arrogant and rude. The problem is that people outside of the church are often more pleasant than those in it when it should be the other way around. Christians are meant to set the bar in things like love, kindness, gentleness, and thankfulness. We are meant to live in such a way that non-believers will want what we have. However, according to statistics, 74% of those who claim Christianity are living either no differently or worse than non-Christians. I know that this statistic does not apply to this group, but if it did, that would mean that 3 out of 4 of us are not any more thankful than those of the world. We must seek to do better.As I close, I want to encourage you to do better. 1st Thessalonians 5:18 says,“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Amen! God desires us to be thankful and not make excuses. He desires us to be thankful because everyone has something to be thankful for. He desires usto be thankful because we are to be the example to the rest of the world of what it truly means to be thankful. How do we do this? It is only through the strength of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With His power and His leading,we can be thankful in all circumstances. This week, I encourage you to make a list of everything you can think of that you can thank God for and then do it.Thank God for all He has done for you because a thankful spirit opens the door to a closer relationship with God. After all, to enter His gates, we must do it with thanksgiving. It’s time we start doing it more. So I ask again are you truly thankful? Amen!