Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… A man writing at the post office desk was approached by an older fellow who had a post card in his hand. The old man said, “Sir, could you please address this post card for me?” The man gladly did so, and he agreed to write a short message on the post card, and he even signed it for the man too.
Finally the man doing the writing said to the older man, “Now, is there anything else I can do for you?”
The old fellow thought about it for a minute, and he said, “Yes, at the end could you just put, ‘P.S. Please excuse the sloppy handwriting.’ ”
How often do you hear people express sincere gratitude? Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-2: “But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be…ungrateful.”
It is interesting to note that the word “gratitude” comes from the same root word as “grace”. Grateful people are people who understand how gracious God has been to them.
The word “thanksgiving” comes from the same root word as “think”, meaning to think about life accurately is to thank God in every way. Paul would write: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
There is an interesting story in Luke 17 that describes this kind of living.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem (v. 11) when he meets ten lepers—nine Jewish lepers and one Samaritan leper—and healed them. This is the largest group of people suffering from leprosy described in the New Testament. All ten share in their suffering, but only one shares in his gratitude for Christ’s mercy and healing power.
There are very few occasions in the Bible where we find Jesus surprised. It’s difficult to surprise an all-knowing being. But, in this instance, Jesus registers surprise, saying: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (vs. 17)
The irony of this story is in the fact that the nine who did not return to thank Jesus were his own countrymen; only the Samaritan returned to thank Jesus.
The nine were chosen people of God who had the most to be thankful for, but expressed no gratitude. Yet, the one who had least to be thankful for—Samaritans were thought of poorly by the Jews, treated as outcasts and half-breeds—expressed the greatest thankfulness.
One can easily apply this situation to our own North American culture: we live in an extremely privileged society, and yet we are some of the most thank-less people in the world. There is a myth in our culture that promotes the idea that we’re only happy when we have more, more, more. Wisdom from Ecclesiastes 6:9 states: “Enjoy what you have rather than desire what you don’t have.”
Personally, I already have more than I deserve.
I trust you had a very happy Thanksgiving! There are over 140 references in the Bible regarding giving thanks to God. Perhaps God is trying to tell us something through this repetition and emphasis on thanksgiving. Let’s be a content, grateful, and thankful people of God.
Have a blessed week, Steve Jones
P.S. Our Fellowship National Conference (November 10-12) is in Toronto, featuring special speakers Ed Stetzer and Dom Ruso. Check our website for more information.