In Everything Give Thanks
In his humanity, Jesus revealed that he was a man of like feelings and emotions as you and I. He was a man of sensibility and he clearly revealed how he felt on many occasions.
We see his anger in the Temple Court as he drives out the money changers and the animal merchants. We witness his compassion as He heals the sick and lame. We recognize his shear joy when in the company of children. We see his frustration and impatience with his disciples when they were slow to learn. His grief over the death of His dear friend Lazerath is obvious to everyone. His love for Mary and Martha – Lazerath’s sisters – was genuine.
In our text, we see another emotion. I think we witness a genuine hurt over the ingratitude of nine men who failed to show the slightest appreciation for what he had done for them. Jesus had healed them of the most dreaded disease of the day. Only one comes back to say ‘thank you’ .
I have felt for a long time that one of the particular temptations for Christians is the danger of getting accustomed to God’s blessings. Like the world traveler who has been everywhere and seen everything, the Christian is in danger of taking his or her blessings for granted and getting so accustomed to them that they fail to excite us.
We have grown accustomed to our blessings. The result is that too man Christians have become thankless Christians.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Thessalonica, encourages the Thessalonian believers to be a thankful people. They are to ". . . give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thess. 5:18). Ever wonder what God’s will for your life is? Well, hear is one. Be thankful!
If God rated our sins – which He doesn't – but is He rated our sins as either "big" sins or "little" sins, I'm sure that He would rate ingratitude as one of the "biggies."
I. INGRATITUDE IS A CHARACTERISTIC OF PAGAN DEPRAVITY
- in his letter to the Christians at Rome, the Apostle Paul lists roots of the problem with the human race
- one of those root problems is thanklessness
- Rom. 1:21 ". . . when they [the pagans] knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful . . ."
- men do not want to recognize and honor God’s position in their lives
- indeed, ingratitude toward God is one of the root sins of a person’s rebellion against God
- like Peter discovered at the camp fire during our Lord's trial before the High Priest, our speech often betrays us
- our speech reveals what our mind is thinking and what our heart is feeling
- Christians ought to be a thankful people, yet we often display an attitude which is characteristic of the unchurched
- sometimes all the world hears us do is gripe
- we gripe about our church
- we gripe about the people in our church
- we gripe about our work
- we gripe about the people we work with
- we gripe about our present lot in life
- we gripe about what the future will probably be like
A. MANY CHRISTIANS ARE AWASH IN A SEA OF NEGATIVITY
- too many believers have forgotten how to "count their blessings"
- instead, we list our misfortunes
- "You wouldn't believe what happened to me last week!"
- some of the most negative environments in the world are Sometimes found within the walls of a church sanctuary
- I think that few things grieve God more than the negativity and ingratitude of His very own people
- when was the last time you really spent some significant time thanking God for anything other than a quick grace at your last meal?
- ILLUS. If we could somehow keep track of our prayers for a month and at the end of that time list every prayer we had prayed and categorize them, the results might be very interesting. We could categorize them into the different types of prayer mentioned in Scriptures – praise, confession, supplication, intercession and thanksgiving. The of what we prayed for would probably be an eye-opener. If you are the average Christian you will spend 2% of your prayer time praising God; about 2% would be spent in intercession – praying for other. Probably about 90% of your prayers are spent in supplication – asking God for those things you want or need or think you need. Most of us spend only about 1% of our prayer time in thanking God for the good things He has brought our way.
B. WHY ARE WE SOMETIMES A THANKLESS PEOPLE?
- I believe there are at least three attitudes that steal away our gratitude and keep us from being thankful
- Our pride
- this is the attitude that says, "Nobody ever gave me anything, I worked hard for everything I have."
- for years you studied hard and now it is finally paying off
- with this kind of attitude, we feel that we have no one to thank but ourselves
- ILLUS. The great American writer Henry Ward Beecher once wrote, "Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves."
- instead of being grateful, the person with a critical spirit will always find something to complain about
- ILLUS. Chuck Swindoll tells that story of a Baptist Deacon who had the most fabulous hunting dog in rural Georgia. The man was a duck hunter, and his retriever was reputed to be the very best at fetching downed ducks. People would invite the deacon to go hunting just to have the privilege of watching the dog perform. On day his pastor came to him and said, “Joe, I’d like for you to invite Bill to go hunting with you. He’s the most critical man I know, and if he could just watch you dog perform, I’m sure he would repent of his critical spirit. So Joe called Bill and invited him to go duck hunting with him the next weekend. The appointed day arrived and Joe picked up his fellow church member early in the morning and they headed out to Joe’s duck blind. They hadn’t been there long when a flock of Mallards circled. BLAME! Joe fired, and a duck came tumbling out of the sky. Joe look at his dog who was anxiously awaiting his master’s command. Joe shouted “fetch” and the dog leaped out of the blind, trotted across the top of the pond, fetched the duck and brought it back to the blind, proudly dropping it at Joe’s feet. Bill just shrugged his shoulders and went, “Hummph.” Joe thought to himself, “Maybe he just doesn’t realize what he just saw.” A few moments later, a flock of Pintails wheeled over head. BLAME! Joe fired, and a Pintail fell from the sky. “Fetch” commanded Joe, and his Retriever bounded out of the blind, trotted across the surface of the water, grabbed the duck and brought it back. Bill just rolled his eyes. By now, Joe is incredulous, But he figures he’ll give it one more shot. A little while later a flock of Wood Ducks wheels overhead. BLAME! BLAME! And two Wood Ducks plop into the pond. “Fetch” commands Joe, and his Retriever jumps out of the blind, trots across the face of pond, grabs both ducks and drops them at his master’s feet. Bill just sits their stone-faced. Joe blurts out, Well, what do you think of my dog???” Bill replies, Ain’t much of a swimmer, is he?”
- ILLUS. Emerson said that if the stars came out only once a year, everybody would stay up all night to behold them. We have seen the stars so often that we don’t bother to look at them anymore.
- thanklessness leads to a negativity about life
- show me a negative Christian and I'll show you a Christian who does not spend much, if any, time thanking God
- negativity leads to a bitterness about your circumstance
- you see happy people all around you and feel as if God has cheated you
- bitterness leads to jealousy
- not only do you become bitter about your own life
- you become envious toward those around you who seem to be enjoying life
C. GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, FOR THIS IS GOD'S WILL FOR YOU IN CHRIST
- thankful prayer is not an option for the believer
- it's God's express will for your life
- Eph. 5:19 "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
- he does not say "For everything give thanks"
- there are many difficulties and circumstances we cannot be thankful for
- a serious illness
- a death
- a debilitating accident
- financial difficulty
- loss of a career
- God would not expect us to thank Him for such things
- we can thank Him that it wasn't worse than it was
- we can thank Him for the strength He gives us to carry through
- we can thank Him for the promise of victory which will eventually come
- ILLUS. Bible commentator Matthew Henry, after being robbed, wrote this in his diary: Let me by thankful; First because I was never robbed before, Second, because although they took my wallet they did not take my life, Third, because although they took my all, it was not much, Fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
- ILLUS. In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom relates an incident which taught her about being thankful. She and her sister, Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst German prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and flea-infested. One morning their bible reading was I Thess. 5:18, "In everything give thanks." Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. She finally succumbed. During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings without the guards interfering. It was several months later when they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.
- Andrew Murray, a South African missionary, wrote, "To be thankful for what we have received, and for what my Lord has prepared, is the surest way to receive more."
- a prayer of thanks offered to God is a statement of faith that says, "No matter how bad this situation might be, I know that God is going to bring me through it."
- in Luke 17 we read about ten men who were healed by Jesus of their leprosy
- out of those ten men only one came back to give thanks and Jesus said, "Where are the other nine?"
- he was the only one willing to take time to go back and say "thank you"
- because of that Jesus said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
- have you ever wondered why Jesus said that? I mean like the others, the man was already healed of his leprosy from the time they went to show themselves to the priest
- but when Jesus says to this one man, "Your faith has made you well," he wasn't just talking about a physical healing, he was talking about a spiritual one, a mental one
- the man had been made whole
- we too are made whole by our thanksgiving
- ILLUS. Psychologists today tell us that sincere gratitude and thanksgiving, is the healthiest of all human emotions. Hans Selye, who is considered the father of stress studies, has said that gratitude produces more positive emotional energy than any other attitude in life.
C. WHAT SHOULD WE BE THANKFUL FOR?
- be thankful that God is good
- be thankful that God’s mercy is everlasting
- be thankful that God’s truth endures
II. WE CAN GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES BECAUSE WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS IN CHRIST
- 1Cor. 15:57 "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
- Paul insists that, because we are more than conquerors, we can give thanks in all things
- in tribulations, we can give thanks to God
- in anguish we can give thanks to God
- in persecution . . .
- in famine . . .
- in nakedness . . .
- in peril . . .
- in threat of death . . .
- because we are not merely conquerors, but "more than conquerors" through Christ Jesus our Lord
- one commentary writer translates that word "conquerors" as "super-invincibles": I like that!
- perspective makes all the difference in a believer’s life
- ILLUS. A young lady once wrote home from college: Dear Mom, Sorry I haven’t written sooner. My arm really has been broken. I broke it and my left leg, when I jumped from the second floor of my dormitory. Don’t worry, I was one of the lucky ones. A young service station attendant saw the blaze and called the Fire Department. They were there in minutes. I was in the hospital for a few days. Paul, the service station attendant, came to see me every day. And because it was taking so long to get our dormitory livable again, I moved in with him. He has been so nice. You and dad will really like him. Oh, by the way, did I tell you that I was pregnant with his child? Paul and I plan to get married just as soon as he can get a divorce. I hope that things are fine at home. I’m doing fine, and will write more when I get the chance. Love, Your daughter Susie. P.S. None of the above is true. But I did get a “C” in Sociology and I flunked Chemistry. I just wanted you to receive this news in its proper perspective!
- to be thankful in all circumstances, we need a proper perspective of our circumstances and of our God
- only then will we be able to give thanks to the Lord always
A. THANKSGIVING HELPS US TO RECOGNIZE GOD IN EVERY EVENT
- one leper came back to thank Jesus
- one our of ten
- Luke 17:15-17 "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. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?"
- like many of us, they took the blessings and ran, never thinking to return to the one who provided the miracle
I meant to go back, but you may guess
I was filled with amazement I cannot express
To think that after those horrible years,
That passion of loathing and passion of fears,
By sores unendurable – eaten, defiled --
My flesh was as smooth as the flesh of a child.
I was drunken with joy; I was crazy with glee;
I scarcely could walk and I scarcely could see,
For the dazzle of sunshine were all had been black;
But I meant to go back,--oh I meant to go back!
I had thought to return, when my people came out.
There were tears of rejoicing and laughter and shout;
They embraced me,--for years I had not known a kiss;
Ah, the pressure of lip is an exquisite bliss!
They crowded around me, they filled the whole place;
They looked at my feet and my hands and my face;
My children were there, my glorious wife,
And all the forgotten allurements of life.
My cup was so full I seemed nothing to lack!
But I meant to go back, – oh I meant to go back!
- we're not very good at saying "thank you" sometimes
- ILLUS. We're like a little boy who went to a friend's birthday. Upon his return from the party, his mother asked, "Bobby, did you thank your friend's mother for the party?" "Well, I was going to," he replied, /"But a girl ahead of me said, 'Thank you,' and the lady told her not to mention it. So I didn't."
Have you maybe meant to go back to God and thank Him for all the blessings you have received in your life? Have you learned to thank Him in every situation and circumstance? If not, you need to come and spend some time this morning at the alter pouring your thanks out to God.
Rudyard Kipling was a great writer and poet whose writings we have all enjoyed. Unlike many old writers, Kipling was one of the few who had opportunity to enjoy his success while he lived. He also made a great deal of money at his trade.
One time a newspaper reporter came up to him and said, "Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over a hundred dollars a word; Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, "Really, I certainly wasn't aware of that."
The reporter cynically reached down into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred dollar bill and gave it to Kipling and said, "Here's a hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now, you give me one of your hundred dollar words." Mr. Kipling looked at that hundred dollar bill for a moment, took it and folded it up and put it in his pocket and said, "Thanks."
He’s right! The word thanks is certainly a hundred dollar word. In fact, I would say it is more like a million dollar word. It's one word that is too seldom heard and too rarely spoken and too often forgotten. If we would all adopt an attitude of thanksgiving into our lives - our lives would be changed. We would savor each day.