“Thank you.” Two words that are often used but seldom said from the heart. In the english language, we often use the same words to express ourselves in two completely different ways. We say “I love chocolate” and “I love my wife/husband”, using the same word but meaning two completely different things! The same applies to the words “Thank you”. We say “thank you” when someone opens the door for us but then we would use the same words to express our gratitude if someone rescued us from near death. We clearly do not mean the same thing!
So what is it to be truly thankful? How do we avoid just “saying the words” without meaning what we say? On a weekend like this, many people take the time to express their gratitude for family, friends, and possessions that surround them.
As an example of this, let us look at ten men whose lives were dramatically changed and see how they reacted. The scene is on the border between Samaria and Galilee on the outskirts of either place. A group of ten leper outcasts spot Jesus walking by them and they yell out to him “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” The Bible tells us that when Jesus saw them, he told them “Go show yourselves to the priests.” This was common procedure in those days. For those who had been cured from a disease, the priest had to certify that this was indeed true (kind of like the modern day doctor) before they could live within society once again.
We are all very familiar with what happened along the way. Whether it was one by one or all at once, the disease left them. Maybe one looked at the other and said “look at your hand! It used to be all withered and spotted but now its as good as new!” One by one, they realized that they were completely healed from this terrible, isolating, and contagious disease! They must have been jumping and skipping along the road towards the temple as they exclaimed their thankfulness to one another. There is no doubt that they all understood the change that had occurred and they were thankful! Of course they were! But there was one who stopped and realized something. This one man not only realized what he had been given, but he realized who had given it to him. So he stopped, maybe said something to the others but what we read is that he went back by himself to say those words. He came back to Jesus, fell on his face, and said “Thank you.” To this man, it was not enough to be thankful for the things he had but he wanted to personally thank the one who gave him those things.
This time of year, almost everyone takes the time to look around as the lepers did and be thankful for what they have. Some may be excited, some may tell their close family and friends around them, some may quietly consider what they have and take some moments to be thankful. But how should we be truly thankful on a day like this? Not only should we realize the things we have and how privileged we are to have them but we should come to understand who is the one who gave us these things.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” - James 1:17
Everything we have been given has been given to us from above. From a God who loves us and desires the best for us. There is something so much more that we should all be thankful for. The apostle Paul writes it best when he writes:
“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” - 2 Cor. 9:15
There is something above all else for which we should be thankfulness. A couple of thousand years ago, there was a man named Jesus on the earth. His purpose was to save the world from their sin. He went to a cross and gave himself completely. For what purpose? So that all of us could understand that he died for us so that we could have our sins forgiven and have peace with God.
So whether you have understood that before or not, take the time today to metaphorically fall on your face (physically if you wish) and say “thank you” to the one who not only gave you everything you have, but to the one who died for you so that you could have peace with God.