Want to kill any hope of feeling thankful this week? Convince yourself that you are being short-changed by life, that the world owes you something. It’s called – entitlement. The thing is that it creeps up on us stealthily, starting with grievance, fed by disappointment. It grows like a weed and turns into a black hole of misery, in us, and for those around us. What am I talking about?
Saying things like …
“God, why can’t I have the life my brother enjoys?”
“Why don’t my parents give me more like my friends get?”
“I deserve to be paid better than I am by that stingy boss.”
“My kids owe me some gratitude after all I give up for them.” And on the list goes….
One day Jesus was traveling and came upon ten men who were together in their awful misery. They were lepers. When leprosy (a broad term used to describe many skin conditions in that time) became evident that person was immediately separated from the community, as a means of keeping the spread of the disease to a minimum. He could no longer live in his home, work in the community, or enjoy his family. Lepers lived a wretched life, beggars and scavengers to survive. Added to the social separation and physical pain, the leper dealt with the judgment of the community. It was generally assumed that it was the leper’s fault, the result of some sin in his life.
That day, those ten men somehow realized who was approaching. Having heard about Jesus’ healing power, they started to yell- “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, their leprosy disappeared.” Luke 17:14 (NLT) Imagine their joy when they saw their skin clearing, all evidence of their leprous condition gone, given their desperate situation!
Now, here’s the part of the story that I want to emphasize today. “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God, I’m healed!” He fell face down on the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:15-17, NLT)
9 of those men did not even think about being thankful. Who knows? Was it just the excitement of being healed, or did they somehow feel they deserved their miracle?
So many Christians have convinced themselves that God owes them more, better, happier, richer, healthier. They fail to appreciate the best gifts of God – salvation, peace, joy. Why? Because of entitlement! Misreading the Bible and filled with Self, their prayers are turned into legal briefs that present their demands for action. Faith morphs into a ‘gimme’ system that says, “God, you promised; now, pay up!” How tragic, how misguided. Our Father in Heaven loves to bless and He does, but He owes you and me NOTHING. His gifts are based in grace, not merit. What He desires is to walk with us, our lives a conversation full of grace, leading us to deep spiritual intimacy.
Entitled people never even think of thankfulness! Even when they enjoy life’s best, they are just convinced that God paid up, made good on the contract. There is a terrible downside that goes right along with that idea. When things go badly, when life falls apart, they beat themselves up wondering what they did that brought such grief on their heads.
Mercy flows from the heart of our Father. Remember, He entered our broken world, in the Person of Jesus, to share our suffering and to give us salvation. The Psalmist reminds us – “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:9-14, NIV)
Are you grateful today?
Does thankfulness overflow from you?
Or is God asking, “where is the gratitude, where is the recognition of My mercy?”
I don’t want to like those 9 healed men that left Jesus without thanksgiving, do you?
In this season of Thanksgiving, check your heart for areas where entitlement has taken up residence. Humbly acknowledge the truth, and then, liberally give thanks – to God, to friends, to family.
Here is a word from the Word for meditation today.
“A psalm of thanksgiving.
Shout with joy to the Lord, O earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and bless his name.
For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” (Psalm 100, NLT)
There will be a Thanksgiving service, celebrated with Communion, at Faith Discovery Church on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve at 7 pm. You’re invited.
Thanks To God For My Redeemer
Thanks to God for my Redeemer
Thanks for all Thou dost provide
Thanks for times now but a memory
Thanks for Jesus by my side
Thanks for pleasant balmy springtime
Thanks for dark and dreary fall
Thanks for tears by now forgotten
Thanks for peace within my soul
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered
Thanks for what Thou dost deny
Thanks for storms that I have weathered
Thanks for all Thou dost supply
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure
Thanks for comfort in despair
Thanks for grace that none can measure
Thanks for love beyond compare
August Ludvig Storm Public Domain