Yesterday, Kathy gave us a fascinating look at what “thanksgiving” really means. As a refresher from that post:
…the primary meaning of the root word translated in its various forms as “thanks” or “thanksgiving” in the Old Testament, is “to acknowledge or confess sin, God’s character and works, or man’s character.”…Based on the Old Testament understanding, the attitude of thanks we are familiar with is intertwined with confession and praise.
…The NT understanding of thanksgiving is a response to a grace given; the acceptance of a kindness done with the acknowledgement that it was undeserved.
Real thanksgiving is inextricably tied to humility as we confess our sin, acknowledge that we deserve nothing, and praise Him for His grace from a posture of lowliness. In Luke chapter 17, we encounter an unnamed man, a despised Samaritan, who understood what real gratitude meant.
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? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Leprosy was a horrible disease. It gradually consumed and disfigured the victim’s entire physical being, interfering with pain receptors and causing the individual to be unaware of touching burning hot surfaces or even the bites of rodents. It didn’t stop with consuming the physical body – this disease also completely consumed all normalcy of life. The diagnosed leper was banned from the town, from their own spouse and children, and sent to live in a colony with others who shared their disease, watching those around them be consumed and eventually succumb to the fate that would eventually take their own lives.
It was with voices raspy with disease and heavily laden with emotion that these men cried out in desperation, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Jesus does have pity on them. Tomorrow we will look at the ingratitude of the other nine lepers, but today let us ponder the one who came back. Not only was this man a leper, he was also a Samaritan. An outcast among outcasts. The lowliest of the low.
Real thanksgiving is inextricably tied to humility. I think this man was the one who came back because he understood just how undeserving he was, just how unlikely it was that this famous Jewish Rabbi would look him in the eye, take pity on him, and restore his life. His lowliness caused him to more fully recognize Jesus’ greatness and prompted him to fall on his face in humble thanksgiving.
We will not give Him the thanksgiving He is due until we recognize how truly lowly we are. True thanksgiving rises from the dust at Jesus’ feet. As we consider how to offer Him thanksgiving from our own hearts, we must go lower. Lower into the dust to see how great and worthy He truly is, how desperate and needy we are, how unlikely it is that He would see us and love us as we are. What wondrous love is this!
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”