Gratitude—the Forgotten Virtue

If we are willing, there are so many avenues we can learn from. For now let’s turn to the story of the (healed) lepers as told in God Word.   Please click Luke 17:11-19 to read the story. There are a few, but important, lessons we get from this passage.

Gratitude is the proper response to God’s grace (vv. 12-13)

We live in a world that is full of ungrateful, complaining, and mean people. We are short of people filled with gratitude. The root-word of gratitude is grace.  Therefore gratitude is a proper response to grace, the undeserving favor we receive from God or other people.  One of the reasons we are not grateful is that we feel we deserve whatever good thing is given or done to us. In fact when someone does us an act of grace, many times our response is “I deserved more. Couldn’t she have done better that this? I could have afforded this on my own. I could have done better than this”

Not many of us would like to hang around mean and ungrateful people.  We all want to be with graceful, kind, and people full of gratitude. There is some kind of attraction that comes from them. It is like that sweet-smelling scent.  This is the same with God. God loves people who are grateful; people who respond to his grace with gratitude.

Gratitude brings Glory to God (vv. 15-19)

Nine out the ten lepers did not return to appreciate Jesus for their healing. Why didn’t they return?

Perhaps they were too excited at their new healing that they forgot about the healer. I sometimes see this kind of response with my kids too. When you get them some thing new and exciting – maybe a new toy, they are so excited jumping up and down that they sometimes forget to say “thank you” to the giver.

It is likely that these lepers were Jews and they were aware of who Jesus was (although their knowledge must have been somewhat faulty). They expected Jesus, as their future King (Messiah), to heal and do miracles. So they might have felt that they deserved to be healed. It was their right to be healed, and it was Jesus’ duty to heal them. It is like appreciating your government for fixing the roads. Our attitude is always: “We pay the taxes. It is they job to fix the roads.”When people develop a sense of entitlement, it becomes very difficult for them to appreciate what others have done for them.

Never take God’s grace for granted. We are undeserving. We were lost sinners, unable to save ourselves. The Bible says we were dead in our sins. But because of God’s grace we have been saved.

The healed leper who returned to give glory to God knew something that the rest did not. He knew his position. He was a” foreigner” (verse 18). He knew he did not deserve healing from Jesus. He knew it was entirely because of God’s grace that he had been healed. He did not take God’s kindness for granted.

There are many simple things that we take for granted:  The life that God has given us, the family that we have, and friends.  How many times have you paused to say “thank you to God for His kindness to you?” How much of your prayer time is characterized by thanks giving?

Gratitude magnifies God. It makes Him look great before the world.

The Bible says in Psalm 95:2 that Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.Psalm 100:4 says Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Why?  5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. The bible also says that thanksgiving is a form of prayer: Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

From the story of the ten lepers that we read, we notice that Jesus made another pronouncement when this healed man came back in praise to God. 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” This may also be interpreted “Your faith has saved you.” Not only did this man receive physical healing but he, most importantly, also received spiritual healing.

What things are you thankful to God about?

What things are you thankful about people who are close to you—your parents, spouse, friends, colleagues, subordinates? Will you take time this week to thank them specifically? 

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