Gratitude - Part 2 — Morning Devotions – Hope 103.2

Gratitude – Part 2 — Morning Devotions

Have a positive attitude, giving generously, forgiving those who hurt us, encouraging and supporting those in need, and so many other things.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsTuesday 28 Dec 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 5 minutes

Willie Nelson said one day, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” An amazing statement!

It was Aldous Huxley who once said, ”Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” In Part 1, I was talking about the need to be grateful. We tend to take so much for granted in life, that we should think again.

Back in about 1998, Stephen King, the man who writes horror novels which are quite popular—not with me I might add—was hit by a car while walking near his summer home. He suffered multiple serious injuries because of a distracted driver. Good medical care saved his life. When asked what his feelings were about this, he said, “Gratitude,” and added some words about the grace of God, which sounded quite out of character to his friends. But you know, that’s how most people react to disaster. There’s nothing like being knocked off your feet to remind you of the blessings of life.

In Luke’s gospel is a strange story about 10 men with leprosy. In New Testament times, leprosy was a terrible and tormenting, incurable disease. If you contracted leprosy then, your life was doomed to loneliness and being cut off from everyone else. They had to leave home, wander away and live in a leper colony, and never enter a church or someone else’s home because of fear they would infect others. All they could do was beg for money and people would stand off at a distance and throw them coins.

Only one came back to thank God

In Luke 17 Jesus was travelling towards Jerusalem when 10 men with leprosy approached him. They stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us”. They were desperate—they couldn’t heal themselves. All they could do was throw themselves before God’s mercy.

Jesus said, “Go and show yourselves to the priest”. He felt great compassion for their plight and wanted to help. And as they went to the priest, they were healed of their leprosy. When one of them discovered that, he came back shouting praises to God. He bowed down at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. But Jesus was puzzled. He asked, “Weren’t ten men healed? Where are the other nine?” Why was this foreigner the only one who came back to thank God? Jesus told the man, “You can get up and go, Your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19).

This group of poor men found themselves cured, restored to their families, their homes, their power of getting their jobs back, their rights as citizens; restored to all that makes life worth having. It was a day of miracles. But there’s something odd here.

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Why did only one come back?

Jesus seemed to be underscoring the importance of gratitude. He seemed quite upset—why did only one say thanks? What about the other nine who were presumably Jews? They should have known better; after all the Samaritan man was despised by the Jews and yet he clearly valued and appreciated what Jesus had done, and had come back to say thanks. Was it because the nine, once cleansed, however, forgot all about Jesus? It seems they took their good health and ran.

You know, I wonder if there are times when we do the same thing. We’re quick to go to God when we’re down and out or when we want something from him. But what happens as soon as our lives take a turn for the better?

Aren’t we like the man who was running late for an important appointment and couldn’t find a parking place. Please, Lord, help me, he prayed. If you will help me find a parking place, I’ll be in church every Sunday for the rest of my life. Just then someone pulled out of a parking spot, and the man prayed, Forget it, Lord, I just found a place.

There is something within the human spirit that tends to forget the promises we make when, in a time of crisis, we bargain with God, and make promises. Then when the crisis is past, we seem to forget those promises, and even forget to take the time to say “Thank you, Lord, Thank you.” How long has it been since you turned away from whatever you were doing, just to come back to him and give thanks for all he has done for you?

These nine men may have been jumping and shouting with bodies that were now whole and strong, but they still had that disease of the heart known as self-centeredness, and the ingratitude it produces.

What a spirit of gratitude looks like

I remember a man named Martin Rinkart and his remarkable spirit of gratitude. He had been a poor boy who had worked his way through school to become prepared for the ministry. Eventually he was invited to become pastor of his hometown parish in a small town in Germany. A year later, the 30 Years War broke out, and his town was caught in the middle of it. Then some 20 years later the Black Plague swept across Europe, including that little town of Eilenburg, where Martin was a pastor.

People died at the rate of 50-a-day, and many families called on Martin to bury their dead. In all, over 8,000 people died, including Martin’s wife. His ministry spanned 32 years—years that were filled with war and plague and sorrow. He remained there, serving the families of that town, bringing faith and hope in the midst of all that pain and sorrow.

And in the midst of it all, he wrote a great hymn:

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, In whom his world rejoices.
Who from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

Abraham Lincoln once released a slave and made him a free man. The man was immensely grateful and asked what he could possibly do to pay for this gift. Lincoln said he must walk the world with gratitude and live like a freed man.

Friends, we too must walk the world with gratitude, and live like freed men and freed women. Perhaps you have heard the saying, The Christian life is not about thanksgiving. It’s about thanks-living!

In other words, being a Christian means putting our thanks into action through:

Having a positive attitude, giving generously to Gospel Ministry, forgiving those who hurt us, encouraging and supporting those in need, and so many other things.