(Part 3) Thanksgiving: God vs. Gifts

A question we should ask ourselves frequently is, “Do I want God or his gifts?” If I lose everything I have (family, health, goods, etc.) but I still have God, would I be happy? Would I be content? Would I be thankful? The answer to this question is revealing.

God is not a genie who is there only to protect and grant wishes. He is the Holy King of the universe. And while he does protect and bestow gifts, the best thing we can receive from him is himself even if we lose all else. God’s gifts are meant to display the goodness of the giver. We are want to become overly enamored with the gifts.

In Luke’s gospel, the doctor shares an account of ten men who suffered from leprosy and encountered Jesus when he was on his way to Jerusalem. It’s a short story, so let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of this event.

“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’
When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was none found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.'” [Luke 17:11-19]

Jesus is on a mission. He is heading to the cross. This trip is not just another ordinary trip to Jerusalem for our Lord. Luke 9:51 tells us that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem knowing that his time to be taken up was near. He is going to the cross; he is going to purchase redemption and the forgiveness of sins, he is going to fulfill the work that the Father had given him to accomplish. Even in the midst of his journey, Jesus takes the time to interact with and heal these men. This moment in time was a divine encounter. Would these men know who stood before them or just take what they could get and go on their way?

Crying out for mercy, they receive it. Jesus tells them to show themselves to the priests, and as they go, they are healed. We don’t know how long these men were lepers, but we do know the leper’s place in this society. Ostracised, excluded, judged, unclean, cut off from all except fellow lepers. How many feasts did they miss out on celebrating with their families? When was the last time they could mingle with countrymen or attend temple worship? When was the last time they received an embracing touch?
I don’t know. But we know that life was painfully hard physically, emotionally, and spiritually for these men. They cry out for mercy.

Jesus extends mercy. He heals them. How will they respond? What will they say or do for the one that has restored their lives? As a group, they fail. But there is one who reacts appropriately. One Samaritan. Having been healed, he returns to Jesus and falls at his feet. He’s praising God and giving thanks.

[If you have time, I’d recommend a study through Luke’s gospel studying all the instances someone fell at Jesus’ feet.]

Jesus commends this man and his faith and tells him to go on his way, for his faith has made him well.

Thanksgiving reveals our hearts. It shows us what or who we worship.
A lack of thanksgiving is revealing too.

Nine out of the ten were shown to have no regard for God or the work he had done. It seems they were only interested in what he could do for them.
The one who returned to give thanks and worship shows his appreciation and affection for the one who made him well.

Take a moment to reflect on your life and all that God has done for you. What does our thanksgiving or lack of thanksgiving reveal about us and our relationship with God?

Do we treat him like a genie in a bottle? Do we want only the things he can provide or do we long for Him as the deer pants for water?
Thanksgiving is revealing.

May we be like this one and not the nine. May we fall at our Savior’s feet in worship and thanks. May we not be people who seek God only for meeting our needs and desires but let us look to the King in worship and thanksgiving. He offers us himself! What more could we want or need?

Let us be the one.
Let us be found at his feet worshiping and giving thanks.
Let us join the refrain of Job, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Article By: Gabe Hinerman


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