As we enter into the Thanksgiving season, have you taken any time to examine your heart to see just how much you appreciate what God in Christ has done for you? We can be so busy working to get through the day that we can overlook and neglect to acknowledge what God has done, and is doing for us daily. As a pastor I have discovered, in coaching individuals from all walks of life over the years, that the degree of our appreciation will always reflect the degree of our previous desperation! Here is a wonderful example of this biblical truth from sacred scripture.
‘Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 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? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well”’ (Luke 17:11-19).
You would be hard pressed to find a more desperate individual than someone who had leprosy in any culture, but especially in the culture of that day. Lepers were banished from the life they once lived in community with family and friends, forced to live beyond the city walls. No family meals. No friendship outings. No community worship experience. No working in the marketplace. They were utter outcasts. And if anyone got near enough to them to possibly contract their horrible disease, they were required to cry out in a loud voice, “Unclean…Unclean!” Desperation was the mark of the leper.
Notice in this passage how they called out to Jesus in their desperation, “In a loud voice.” Now notice how the only one who returned to show his appreciation called out in praise and thanksgiving, “In a loud voice.” It is plain to see that this healed leper demonstrated a degree of appreciation that reflected the degree of his previous desperation. In his hopeless situation he found hope in the only One who could help, the Lord Jesus Christ. Remembering his previous hopelessness helped him demonstrate the appropriate appreciation for what God in Christ had done for him.
It’s also important to note that the one who returned to thank Jesus was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were despised by the Jewish people, so this leper was putting himself at great risk returning to Jesus who was a Jewish holy man. However, the risk did not prevent him from expressing his gratitude. He was consumed by his appreciation for what the Almighty had done for him. Is this the confession of our lives? Are we consumed with appreciation for what the Almighty has done for us and continues to do for us each day? It will be if we keep preaching the gospel to ourselves daily.
To the extent that we keep in view the truths of the gospel, our gratitude, thanksgiving and appreciation will find appropriate expression. We need to be reminded daily what our sin cost our Savior and how willingly he paid that price. Jesus did for sinners what sinners could not do for themselves by delivering us from both the penalty and the power of sin. Our situation by nature was not simply desperate, it was hopeless. Apart from Jesus, we would spend eternity separated from the love of God in Hell. But Jesus refused to give us what we deserved. His beating was our beating. His crown of thorns was our crown of thorns. His nine-inch nails were our nine-inch nails. His cross was our cross. His death was our death. He who knew no sin became sin for us.
The great theologian B. B. Warfield put it this way, “We are sinners, and we know ourselves to be sinners lost and helpless in ourselves, but we are saved sinners, and it is our salvation which gives tone to our life—a tone of joy which swells in exact proportion to the sense we have of our ill-desert. For it is he to whom much is forgiven who loves much and, who loving, rejoices much.” The more we sense and see our prior desperation, the greater our demonstration of appropriate appreciation.
Let us reflect upon this truth throughout this Thanksgiving season and praise our God loudly with both our lips and our lives.
This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!