Attitude of Gratitude

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

(Luke 17:11-19)

Leprosy was a destructive and debilitating disease at the time of Jesus. Those who suffered with it were isolated from their families living in small leper communities with little hope of recovery. It was essentially a death sentence with a miserable existence until death finally arrived. The word that a healer named Jesus of Nazareth could heal the disease sparked some glimmer of hope in the hearts of many lepers. When a group of ten lepers heard that Jesus was in their vicinity, they made haste to seek mercy from him. To their glad surprise their cry for pity was not unheeded. Jesus instructed them to go show themselves to the priests, which was required by the law of Moses to verify they were indeed cleansed from the dread disease. But something truly amazing happened. When one of the lepers realized the glorious truth that he was healed, he returned back praising God to thank Jesus. He was a samaritan.

One out of ten returned with a grateful heart. He was genuinely thankful. He was amazed at the magnitude of his blessing. Real gratitude is always taken back at what has happened to them, or at the startling realization of the blessing they have lived with for some time. Those with an attitude of gratitude are overwhelmed by their blessing rather than just expecting what they have received. They can’t get over it. “Why was I given such a great blessing?” they might ask or think.

Thankfulness is an essential attitude for the believer in Jesus Christ to live a joyful and productive Christian life. Those who are consistently ungrateful are usually neither happy nor fruitful. It is important to know that God calls his people to be grateful which is part of the process of spiritual maturity. Gratitude is a grace that lives in the hearts of those who know and walk with the Lord. To be really grateful requires a level of insight and wisdom in living life well.

Gratitude is not a disposition of complaining. Those who are never or seldom satisfied are not truly thankful. Complaining is an attitude of continual dissatisfaction with the way things are. One never seems to arrive at where one wants to be or deserves to be. Paul says in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do all things without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” While they are not without the struggles of life, the truly grateful person honestly sees the hand of God even in the difficult things of life without coming across as inauthentic.

Gratitude does not often take the simple things of life for granted. Thankfulness is known and felt in the mundane things of life. Every moment of life is a beautiful gift from the heart of God and should be treasured. Having that thought is one thing, but experiencing true gratitude is very much another thing. The burdens of life can so overwhelm us that we may easily overlook the simple gifts that pass through our days. It takes an intentional effort to milk the good out of every circumstance. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for that is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God’s will for us is that we be thankful. Understanding the gift of God in every kind of circumstance is the path to true and deep thankfulness.

Also, gratitude avoids that ugly disposition of envy and jealously. Envy looks at another persons life and longs to have what they have, while, on the one hand not realizing what it might have cost that person to arrive where they are, and on the other hand, not appreciating what opportunities are before us in our own lives. Envy is myopic; it is short sighted and turned in on itself. Envy does not grasp the uniquely designed gifts of God for its particular situation and need. One cannot be truly thankful for the blessings of life while greedily looking at what another has. Gratitude is not only content with the good hand of God, but is astonished at the grace of God.

Gratitude seldom happens automatically but must be practiced. We train ourselves to look at life through the eyes of God. It is something we must work at. He loves us and wants the best for us, but he is infinitely wise so that we can, with thankfulness, trust what he brings into our lives. He is leading us toward the wonderful blessing of gratitude.

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