Friday, March 21, 2008

Overflowing Gratitude

The Grateful Living: Part 4

In part three I pointed out that the nine Jewish lepers who were healed by Jesus responded to Jesus’ compassion through obedience. Obedience is certainly a good way to respond, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the gratitude and love that is in our heart. There is a better way to respond to God’s love.

The best response to God’s love is to worship from gratitude.
15 But one of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. Now the man was a Samaritan. (Luke 17: 15-16; ISV)

I wonder how far these lepers got before healing over took them. Did it happen immediately as they turned to find the priests? Did it take a few steps? Did they go a mile or two?

Not only that, but what was their reaction when they realized that their curse had been cured, that no longer did they have to leave the life of a person who was regarded as dead? Did the dance and yell? Did they give high fives to one another? Did the hug their brothers? Again we don’t know, all we know is that one lifted his voice to thank God. The amazing thing is that it was the Samaritan, rather than the Jews, who properly thanked God for what happened.

I also wonder if part of the Samaritan’s reaction was due to the fact that he was a Samaritan, and therefore was stuck with a double curse. Not only did he have to deal with the leprosy, but he also had to deal with the rejection for being a half-breed. The ancestors of the Samaritans were Jews who mixed with Gentiles during the exile and Greek occupation of Jewish history. So while they still considered themselves descendants of Abraham and Jacob, and still worshiped God, they were considered foreigners by the Jews. They couldn’t worship in the Temple like the Jews did, and therefore they modified Judaism to fit their situation. So even if this man didn’t have leprosy he would have been told by the Jews that he was worthless and that God didn’t love him.

Could you imagine then his reaction when he was healed just like his Jewish companions. What would he have realized? That God loved him just like He loved the Jews. This is probably one of the reasons Luke uses this story, since the biggest problem the early church had was racism, a reminder to all Christians that God loves everyone, it isn’t about race. What is important is a person faith demonstrated through their love for God and people.

When this man is healed he gives way to the joy that is in his heart and he thanks the one person who had the power to heal him: Jesus. The Samaritan knew that his healing was supernatural and he knew that Jesus was responsible for it.

Are we as quick to thank God for the blessings that come into our lives? I know that I am terrible at overlooking God’s work in my life and attributing blessings to my own hard work or the generosity of others. The result is that I don’t thank God they way that I should. We have to remember that everything that we have been given comes from God.

Peter reminds us:
{2}May grace and peace be lavished on you as you grow in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord! {3}I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. {4} Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire. (2 Peter 1:2-4; NET)

God gives us wonderful gifts for the purpose of growing us into the people He created us to be. He wants us to escape the sin and the decay of this corrupted world and share in the eternal life He has prepared for us. Our destiny isn’t death but life, and that should fill us with gratitude.

This gift of life isn’t something we have earned, but something God has freely given to us. Since this is the case how can we respond in any other way other than worship? While obedience is a better way to respond to God, to worship is the best way we can respond to God’s gift.

  • Point to Ponder: While obedience is a better way to respond to God, to worship is the best way we can respond to God’s gift.
  • Passage to Remember: 2 Peter 1:2-4
  • Question to Consider: How quick are you to praise God for the blessings of your life?

No comments:

Accept the Differences

Most of us understand that people are different and those differences are a good thing. The world would be a boring place if everyone beli...