True thankfulness is a lifestyle

Published 3:03 pm Friday, November 23, 2018

By Hunter Greene
Our culture has a way of making things that are truly sacred just another commodity to be bought on a shelf. For instance, we have taken the birth of God’s son and made it about trees, lights, and an imaginary man from the North Pole. We have taken the resurrection of God’s son and made it about eggs and an imaginary rabbit that brings gifts. We have taken a day of thankfulness and made it a pre-game meal for the biggest shopping day of the year. Our culture has no problem turning the gifts of God into mere profits.
It comes as no surprise then that we have a hard time being thankful as Christians. We have become products of our society which has formed us to behave primarily as consumers. We go to the mall year after year looking for new things that will make our lives better because the stuff we bought last year just didn’t do the trick. We may give God a few nice words at a meal or maybe a nice service every November, but in reality, we don’t live as grateful followers of Christ. True thankfulness is founded in the lifestyle that God has supplied our every need in Christ. Yet, the porcelain depiction of Jesus as Walmart is usually more attractive to us than Jesus Himself.
In Luke 17, we find a good reminder that what is popular and what sells is not always what is right. Verses 11-19 read, “And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”
We like to think that we are the last leper that would turn around to thank God before going about our business. However, God blesses us beyond measure every day with clothes, food, shelter, and so much more, yet we hardly ever even give Him a nod. But thankfulness has less to do with what we get or obtain and more to do with who we are. Many of the most thankful people I know have the least. A closer look at Luke 17 will show this as well.
In the story of the ten lepers, only one turned around to thank Jesus. The interesting thing is that the one that turned around had the least to be thankful for. First, this man had been shunned from his community for his skin disease. Isolated from his friends and family, this man had become close friends with loneliness and rejection as well as great emotional and physical pain. Secondly, Luke points out that this man was a Samaritan. Personally, I think the key in unlocking this story lies in the words of Jesus, “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” Other translations say “foreigner.” Jesus points out that not only was this man a leper, but he was also a Samaritan, an ethnic group hated by the Jews. The only man that turned around to worship the Master was a man diseased, isolated, and hated.
This story teaches us that thankfulness must come from a place of brokenness and pain. The one leper that turned around had never been shown mercy or love until he met Jesus. This leper may have initially asked for healing, but Jesus gave him more than a good doctor’s visit. Jesus made him whole for eternity. A man that never deserved mercy, healing, or wholeness encountered the God of the universe and got all three. It would do us good to realize that we don’t deserve God’s blessings either. This Thanksgiving do more than thank God for your car and clothes. Rather, thank God by living your life as if Jesus is all you ever needed.
(The Solution column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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