Summary: I am guessing that each of you sat down on Thanksgiving Day with people that you love and you likely began your meal by expressing thanks.

“Thanks Giving”

Luke 17:11-19

I am guessing that each of you sat down on Thanksgiving Day with people that you love and you likely began your meal by expressing thanks. Someone said this past week that Thanksgiving is perhaps the purest of all of the holidays in that no one is giving gifts or expecting anything in return, we’re just bowing our heads and saying thanks and then of course we eat until we can’t even move and then we watch football all day. We watched 3 games on Thanksgiving Day. We are very thankful we could spend Thanksgiving Day with our son Ross and his wife Brittany in Texas. And we’re very thankful the Dallas Cowboys beat the Redskins.

Families often hold hands and pray before every meal. My wife and I have since the day we got married. If you don’t let me encourage you to start this tradition today at lunch. When we bow for prayer we often referring to it as saying grace. We use the word grace in a variety of ways.

• When someone is kind we say we are grateful.

• When we receive good news we are gratified.

• If someone is a good host we say they are gracious.

• If we go out to eat and we receive good service we leave a gratuity.

Grace and thankfulness go hand in hand.

According to many psychologists the act of expressing thanks makes an incredible difference. People who are thankful and express their gratitude are less likely to experience depression. Bottom line, you and I need to learn to be more thankful.

So here’s the question, what does it take to become a truly thankful person? How can we do that for ourselves and how can we help others … become more thankful?

In this passage of scripture we find 10 people Jesus was dealing with ... 10. He healed every one of them of a very difficult disease, a very painful disease but get this ….. only one of them bothered to come back and say thank you. When I meet people who seem to have developed what we might call an attitude of gratitude I often wonder where does that come from; why is it some people are truly grateful while others never bother to say thank you for anything at all? I think….

* some follow the example of their parents. Their home of origin. They saw it in them and they emulated their behavior.

* some have gone through a very difficult trial and they came out of it as a much better person. It made them more thankful

* others may have learned to observe those who are less fortunate. Then we realize just how blessed we are.

In this passage Jesus is traveling along the border of Samaria and Galilee. These are two of the largest cities in Palestine which is where Jesus grew up. In that day without a doubt leprosy was the most feared disease anyone could have. We are told that it was extremely but the physical pain may not have been the worst part. The worst part was the isolation that someone with this disease must have felt. They were shut off from their family. They were shut off from their friends. They were shut off from the church. And because of the position that the church took, they felt they were shut off from God as well.

We notice verse 12 says the lepers stood at a distance from Jesus. This was not out of choice, society forced them to do so. They didn’t realize they could actually approach Jesus. Lepers weren’t allowed to associate with anyone who did not also have leprosy. They were forced to live in caves or out in the wilderness....later they were placed in colonies, their own little city so that they could have no contact with the outside world. Most had absolutely no one who was willing to help. If for any reason they needed to go into town they had to ring a bell that they wore around their necks and they were required to announce that they were coming into town by ringing the bell and shout very loudly, “I am unclean, unclean!” so that people could move away. Can you imagine how that must have felt? Dr. William Barclay tells us that if the wind was blowing in the direction of a healthy person a leper had to stand at least 150 feet away. There is no way to adequately describe the pain and isolation they must have felt. To compound all of this those who had leprosy were taught that they had leprosy because of their sin. In other words not only did they have the most dreaded disease a person could have; they were being taught by the church that it was their fault. This was common thinking in that day and it has spilled over into today’s theology as well.

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