1998-11-26 - Gratitude
Thanksgiving Day - 1998
Luke 17:17 "Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?" (NIV)
There are so many times we are blessed or forgiven and we either fail to recognize the moment when it happens or we fail to stop and be grateful. We are not unlike the nine lepers who were also cured and simply move on with our lives when we do this. Perhaps we are moving too fast or we have become jaded by the society around us. Neither is very good, the second is an indication of an immature or a failing spirit.
When a child is young, they must be reminded to say thank you for things. Mom gets them a popsicle from the freezer on a hot day. "What do you say?" "Thanks, Mom!" As we grow, we learn to at least recognize the effort on our behalf with at least a rote thanks. Then there will be a day with the stomach flu or a bad cold and someone will call or bring some soup. How thoughtful of them. What a relief from the railing stomach or pounding head. Even if it is simply the distraction of the call, it is relief. This is one of the simple times we know gratitude.
Ever cut someone off in traffic accidentally? I have. As careful as you try to be, there will be a time when you fail to check your blind spot. More often than not the horn is followed by waving hands or gestures to indicate their annoyance of the offended person. Now and then, instead of anger there is a smile and an indication that it's okay and that things like this happen. What a relief it is to meet that person.Were they any less troubled by the near miss? Not at all. But they chose not to take offense over a matter that was past and they could have done themselves.
Jesus said that the world would know us by the love that we as Christians have for one another. But that love and forgiveness must spill out to other lives, especially in these moments. Recognizing our own capability to be less than perfect and forgive those things in others makes a dramatic difference in our lives. Who knows? If the little things can be looked past, then the next layer of problem becomes the little things. Slowly, the list of things to be upset over might begin to dwindle.
Is this an oversimplification? Perhaps on the surface it may appear that way. When we think of it, we are more and more like the debtor who was forgiven a lifetime of debt by his master. At that point, it is up to us to chose to forgive our fellow servant his debt to us. We have been forgiven everything by Jesus. All our sins are buried in the depths of the sea never to be remembered or used against us. As we learn to understand the depth of what we have been forgiven, gratitude will be a natural outgrowth of that recognition.
Lord Jesus, help us to see what we have been forgiven, so that can have hearts full of gratitude and thanksgiving to You for your mercy, love and forgiveness. When our hearts are full, they will spill over in the lives of those around us. Amen.