Pastor’s Ponderings, November 2019

Thanks-Giving

November is the month we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, but it is a good time to ask ourselves if we are taking a holiday from expressing our thanksgiving.  How often do we think about all we have to be thankful for?  How often do we express that thanks in an act of gratitude?  For many, even sending a thank you card after receiving a gift is considered old fashioned or too much trouble.  Why, because we are too focused on receiving, or think we’re entitled to what we’ve received.  But isn’t it only right that we express our gratitude for the gifts we’ve receive?  The Thanksgiving holiday is a time when we are supposed to reflect on what we’ve received and celebrate our gratitude.  Unfortunately, for many it represents little more than a respite from work and opportunity to watch football. 

There is a story in the Bible that it would be good for all of us to pay special attention.  In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus encounters ten lepers who ask Him to “have mercy” on them.  Jesus responds by telling them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests” which was what lepers were supposed to do if they were cleansed.  A priest had to verify they were healed to allow them to return to their families and no longer be banished from society.  In this story, the miracle of cleansing takes place as they travel to the priest.  Suddenly they discover they are completely healed.  One of the ten, a foreigner, seeing that he has been cleansed, immediately returns to Christ to express his gratitude.  Jesus then questions why the other nine did not also return to express their gratitude, making it clear that expressing gratitude was the right thing to do and His expectation.  Then, regarding the one who did express his gratitude, Jesus does something that emphasizes the critical importance of expressing gratitude.  Jesus says to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”  You may think this is no big deal because Jesus made them all “well”?

The truth is that the Greek word most English language Bibles translate as “well” or “whole” actually is the verb “to save.”  All ten lepers were made physically “well” but only the one who returned to express his gratitude was “saved,” healed body and soul.

Gratitude has always been an integral part of living our faith.  God gives us everything we have and calls us to honor Him by giving back ten percent, a tithe, from our first fruits.  God has blessed us with life, skills, talents, and all the time we have.  Therefore, it is only right that we give thanks to God by giving back a portion of what we’ve been given.  God has even told us how we are to give to Him, informing us that what we give to the least of those in need we give to Him.  Therefore, we show our gratitude and honor God by giving and serving the needs of others.  And the greatest need anyone has goes beyond the physical, but is to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Sharing our faith with others is a gift that not only blesses their lives right now, but for all eternity.  I would like to think of this giving back to God in thanks for what He has given us as “thanks-giving.”  But let us not limit this to an annual holiday or event.  God’s grace and blessings are ever flowing into our lives.  So while the Thanksgiving holiday is a great time to celebrate what we’ve received and count our blessings, we should be living an attitude of gratitude all year long.  Living a life of “thanks-giving” to God will not only make us feel better, it just may “save” us.  Save us because it will change our orientation from a focus on “receiving” to a focus on “giving.”  This is the example Christ has given us.  Through the gift of His life, death, and resurrection, we have been saved.  Show your “thanks-giving” every day and in every way!

Your fellow servant in Christ,

Pastor Harold