During His travels in Samaria and Galilee, Jesus was confronted in one village by a group of ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). The disease that afflicted them had made them social outcasts. The illness that infected them had no known earthly cure in those days. So their helpless plight made them turn to Jesus in desperation and request mercy and healing. In compassion, our Lord responded (as He always did) to their need and healed all ten. We cannot imagine the impact that this healing and restoration had upon them and their families. All ten were cleansed of the leprosy, but only one glorified God and stopped to thank the Savior.
We would all agree that ingratitude is inexcusable. And yet, so often we are equally remiss as were the nine lepers in giving thanks to God. Paul declared that we are to give thanks in everything and for everything that we recognize as a gift from God (I Thessalonians 5:18). James declared that all good and perfect gifts we receive originate with God. Too often we equate blessings with material things alone. Then we fail to adequately thank God for the greater gifts He bestows. Let us examine a few of those greater gifts.
First, we should thank God for the simplicity of salvation. Men and religion have done their best to complicate God’s program of redemption. They add to the Cross things such as church membership, baptism, good works and mysterious “second works” of grace. But, in Acts 16:31, Paul’s response to the inquiry of the Philippian jailer was to “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…” That’s plain and simple and will not exclude anyone from accepting God’s precious gift.
We ought to also thank God for freedom. For the believer, there are many avenues of freedom. We should thank God for the freedom of life we enjoy as Americans and remember that many of our ancestors have paid for that freedom with their blood. We should also thank God for the spiritual freedom we enjoy as believers. We are free from the guilt of sin. We are free from the penalty of sin. We need not fear the past, present or future. We are secure in Christ because His blood has cleansed us and sanctified us for God’s kingdom and purpose. We are free from the “wage of sin” but we are also free from the “rage of sin.” Jesus has set us free spiritually and we will enjoy His presence, peace and blessing for all eternity.
As you gather with your family and friends this Thanksgiving, amid the turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, remember to pause and thank God for all the blessings you have received. And even in that act of giving thanks you will be further blessed.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
I Thessalonians 5:18 – “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”