Shelby G. Floyd
The exhortation of the apostle Paul to the church at Colossae is also pertinent today for churches, families and the country:
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
God wants all people and especially those who belong to Christ, to know the peace of God, to be thankful and to express our gratitude through joyful songs of praise and instruction. We are to be thankful every day and this spirit is symbolized in our national day of gratitude for our blessings vouchsafed to us by our forefathers.
This Thursday we will observe one of our best American holidays—Thanksgiving. It is rooted in our history and our best traditions. Indeed we have a lot to be thankful for in spite of the economic turmoil. But with all of our bounty many people have negative attitudes, and are not thankful for what we do have. Briefly we shall look at three different attitudes from the story Jesus described in the Gospel of Luke—The Ten Lepers.
ATTITUDE OF DEPRESSION
In the Scriptures the disease out leprosy for which there is no known human cure is a type of sin. Scripture declares that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Leprosy made the 10 lepers unclean and unfit for fellowship with other people (Leviticus 13:45). Sin makes us unfitted to have fellowship with God and isolates us from his presence (Isaiah 59:1-2). The 10 lepers were therefore filled with very deep despair and depression. All they could do was to cry out for the mercy of their fellow human beings and Almighty God. So it is with those who are filled with a sin laden life. David said that it was good for him to be afflicted so that he might learn God’s decrees (Psalms 119:71).
ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
The Lord Jesus Christ had mercy on the ten lepers and healed every one of them. God had mercy on every one of us and sent Jesus Christ to taste death for every man. Potentially Christ is the Savior of all men. Actually he is the Savior of only those who believe. After they were healed only one of the lepers returned to thank the Lord for what he had done:
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
The virtue of gratitude is often found in the most unlikely place. In this case the attitude of gratitude was found in the lowly Samaritan who was despised by the Jews. When we are thankful for our blessings it often prepares us for other blessings. In the case of a Samaritan he not only received physical healing but also spiritual healing. The Bible says that he was made whole and that includes salvation from his sin. But where are the other nine lepers who were also healed?
ATTITUDE OF INGRATITUDE
When the Lord saw the Samaritan returning to give him thanks, he asked the poignant question, “Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17-18). Ingratitude is a despicable sin and is listed in the black catalog of evils that will be characteristic of people in the last days (1 Timothy 3:1-5).
This story from Jesus teaches us some very valuable lessons that we need to learn and apply to our lives. First from the one leper—the Samaritan, we learn the beauty and the duty of gratitude. Second, from the nine lepers we learn the attitude of ingratitude is one of the ugliest sins of which a person may be guilty. Third, from the ten lepers as a whole we learn that all people need the cleansing of the leprosy of sin that is available through Christ.
We close our thoughts for today with a statement from William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth colony, in 1623:
To All Ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
Thus began the very first official Thanksgiving celebration on the shores of this new world called America.
Also it would be inappropriate if we did not record the words of our very first president—George Washington, who was grateful for the divine providence that had brought our new nation into existence:
“Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor;
Whereas, both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness!’
Now therefore, I do recommend next, to be devoted by the people of the states to the service of that great and glorious being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be, that we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks…”
Let us all cultivate a more humble attitude of gratitude for our many blessings.
Copyright © 2009—2016 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142
Shelby G. Floyd