Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare penned the words, “Blow, blow, thou winter wind, Thou art not so unkind, As man’s ingratitude.” There are few things more repulsive than ingratitude. We understand it, but there is something deeply disturbing about it. It is a strange and ironic juxtaposition that the most thankful day in the American calendar year is followed by the most materialistic day in the American calendar year. The same hands that joined together in prayer over a meal the day before, were the same hands fighting for their share of the Black Friday loot.
The Lord Jesus on one occasion in Luke 17:11-19 healed ten lepers. Nine of them failed to come back and say “thank you.” One of the chief lessons of this miracle/parable is to understand that “thanksgiving matters to the Lord” (See Psalm 136; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:18). Jesus took note of the Samaritan man who was made well and fell down at His feet. Yet, He also noticed that there were nine absent in giving thanks to Him for what He had done.
Note the similarities between these men.
They all had the same disease. There was not one person who had it worse than others. Leprosy was a death sentence. There was almost no chance for them to be cured. In fact, there were only four other cases in the Bible where leprosy was cured and it was done supernaturally (Moses, Miriam, Naaman and the unnamed leper of Luke 5.)
Note that these lepers all came to the same person. They all believed in Jesus enough to cry out to Him for healing. They all desired the same thing: cleansing. They were all told to do the same thing (Luke 17:14). They all received the same blessing.
Note the differences between the nine and the one. He operated as an individual. While most of these men were looking at their skin, this one was looking at his heart (Luke 15:15). Self-examination is the beginning of gratitude. He saw what he was given and realized, “I must give thanks.” Thanksgiving was a priority because this leper saw the greatness of God in what he received. We hear the intensity of his voice in the gratitude he offered to Jesus (Luke 15:16). We would do well to look at ourselves individually after thanksgiving is over and see and appreciate how blessed we are because of what God has given.
Beware letting thanksgiving be one day a year! A herd mentality of materialistic pursuit may rob us of our need for thanksgiving (beware especially of this during this time of year). Familiarity may keep us from thanksgiving. When was the last time you looked at your spouse or your children and said, “I am truly thankful for you in my life.”
Procrastination can keep us from being thankful the way we ought. Sometimes we forget to be thankful or purpose to do it later. It can come across as ingratitude! Discontentment with what we have can keep us from being thankful! This man, this leper, found balance and a blessing between his faith that obeyed Jesus and his thankfulness that compelled him to say, “thank you!” Don’t let thanksgiving be over now that Thanksgiving is over.
Andy Baker is the pulpit preacher at Graeber Road church of Christ. You can reach him at email@example.com.