The ability to express gratitude is one of the fundamental signs of a redeemed life and a growing spirituality. To give thanks is one of the highest callings we have and one of the most self-benefiting things we can do. It keeps us from being self-absorbed—the terminal disease of our current culture. It produces an eternal perspective. It reminds us of how truly blessed we really are. It creates a perspective that sees that all of life is a gift. Scripture puts it quite simply: In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you!
The Journey: Luke 17:15-17
One of the lepers, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?”
Every generation of parents ask a question of their children. It’s more of a prompting than a question. After receiving a gift or a favor, parents ask, “What do you say?” Of course, the expected response is, “thank you!”
That routine was repeated in my home when I was a child. My mother would ask me, “What do you say to your grandmother for her Velveeta, Spam and lima bean casserole?” Now they didn’t really want my honest opinion here—they would have gone postal if I would have said, “Grammie, what in the name of all that’s good were you thinking? You shouldn’t ever be allowed to prepare meals again!” They didn’t really care what I thought; they simply wanted a response of gratitude to show my acknowledgement of Grammie’s kindness and effort.
Even if children don’t feel gratitude, parents want them to learn to offer thanks simply because it’s the right thing to do. Why? Simply because every human being lives with a debt of gratitude, owing thanks to someone for something. Of course, parents hope their kids won’t just parrot words of gratitude; they hope that the exercise of gratitude now will one day produce authentically grateful people. The ancient Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero rightly said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all others.”
Everything good and right flows from an authentically grateful heart. And gratitude is exactly what our Heavenly Father hopes for each of us! That is why you can’t go very far into the Bible without a reference or an admonition to be thankful, as in this story of the ten lepers.
The ability to express gratitude is one of the fundamental signs of a redeemed life and a growing spirituality. To give thanks is one of the highest callings we have and one of the most self-benefiting things we can do. It keeps us from being self-absorbed. It produces an eternal perspective. It reminds us of how truly blessed we really are. It creates a perspective that sees that all of life is a gift.
At the end of each day G. K. Chesterton would say, “Here ends another day, during which I have had eyes, ears, hands [to experience this] great world around me. Tomorrow begins another day. Why am I allowed two?” That’s why Ambrose, Bishop of Milan said, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” It keeps you focused on God’s goodness and not on yourself. And best of all, gratitude opens the door for more. The great preacher Andrew Murray said, “To be thankful for what we have received…is the surest way to receive more.”
So why not practice a little gratitude today! You’ll be grateful you did!
One of the simple ways you can do this is to write a list of ten things from this past week for which you are thankful. Then give thanks for them.