Sunday Review: Gratitude – A Posture of Thankfulness

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

This morning we had the privilege of attending Life Church in southeast Edmonton and it was a memorable experience. Before announcements were made, prayer offered for those who are sick, before the message, the worship team ended their ministerial session with a doxology. 

Doxology: “Doxologies are an expression of praise to God. In the Christian church, we often hear them sung or chanted. They are a tradition that has meaning and importance for all Christians. Since the early church, doxologies have been a way for Christians to express their love and thankfulness for what God has done in their lives.

A doxology will be heard at the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns. They are a short hymn of praise one will find in various Christian and Jewish worship services today.” 

Jesus taught His disciples to pray and the Bible teaches us to praise. We praise Him as He is, above all creatures, above every kingdom, man, tribe, and tongue. We worship and praise the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. One God, eternally existent in three persons. Praise Him. 

Amen

Pastor Mike Love, lead pastor at Life Church set off to remind congregants in attendance and those who opted for online services and watched from home that gratitude is as important to the life of a believer as is faith. He explains that like faith, gratitude is a posture of thankfulness. It must come from us to God before we see His blessings in action. Our thankfulness becomes a part of our Christlike character as we mature in our spiritual walk with God. 

Context

Today’s scripture is found in the gospel of Luke.

“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 no one 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 11-19

Luke records for us a strange occurrence between Jesus and a group of lepers who happened to cross paths. 

For those of us unfamiliar with leprosy, the CDC defines it this way: 

“Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. It can affect the nerves, skin, eyes, and lining of the nose (nasal mucosa). With early diagnosis and treatment, the disease can be cured. People with Hansen’s disease can continue to work and lead an active life during and after treatment.

Leprosy was once feared as a highly contagious and devastating disease, but now we know it doesn’t spread easily and treatment is very effective. However, if left untreated, the nerve damage can result in crippling of hands and feet, paralysis, and blindness.”

And although we know today that this bacterial infection isn’t as communicable as we thought, back then, many thought it was. In fact, two thousand years ago people did not have Tylenol to relax an aching back or a Motrin or Aleve to soothe a headache. There was no penicillin, amoxicillin, or any other drug that could treat these diseases so societies and cultures would go to the extremes to separate anyone who displayed signs and symptoms of any disease. This was done to prevent pandemics from sweeping through nations and decimating their numbers. 

In this case, men, women, and children who succumbed to this nefarious disease were determined unfit to live with the rest of society. They were cast out of town to live with other lepers, in squalor, where they would have to beg for food.

These individuals would become victims to some of the more grotesque forms of livelihoods as leprosy would eat away their fingers, toes, nose, and ears. Some would lose an eye or two, as the bacteria would devastate their bodies. Some would lose their feet or hands, and others their limbs. They would carry the mark of their disease on their body and the shame of it on their face.

These were outcasts. These were the untouchables of that time.

If any of them were to enter a town to beg for food or money, seeking help or relief, they would have to announce their entry at times from hundreds of feet away. 

Imagine announcing your entry into a school, a Walmart, a venue as a diseased man or woman. Every time you reach for a door there are signs that say “diseased, stay away,” or “announce yourself from a distance and if we decide, we may serve you.” 

It’s such a burden. A sad scene, really. 

Now that the world is adjusting to the new reality of social distancing we are somewhat aware of how it feels to maintain a distance, how often we can visit someone or someplace, how many people can be in there, and how many restrictions are present to prevent the spread of a virus.

But our dignity is intact. Our personhood is there. Our decency is evident. 

But lepers of antiquity were the lowliest of the low, who, if they did enter a city without announcing themselves they faced punishment, possibly death. 

And if one were to, say, beat the disease and its spread halted, they would then present themselves to a priest, the highest level of government at the time, for inspection and purification.

The person was cleared from quarantine, was reinstituted into society, allowed to find lodging and work, possibly marry and raise children, revisit family they were forbidden to hug and touch for God knows how long.

You can imagine the ramifications of being a leper and never finding relief. It would not be a stretch to think some of them thought of taking their own lives. 

But in the passage above, we see that Jesus is on his way to the capital city of Jerusalem and is met by ten lepers. These men had most certainly heard of Jesus, the miracle worker, and had hope that he might, just might heal them. They stood at a distance as was customary they shouted at him, pleading with him for restitution and a reversal of their misfortune. And here, many televangelists would have asked for money, money-hungry preachers would have asked for faith seeds (money) and prosperity moguls would have demanded partnerships (more money). 

But Jesus tells them to do something very weird. He tells them, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.”

And as mentioned above, you know that a leper is only to show himself or herself to a priest for inspection of being, say, cured or healed of the disease. But these lepers probably looked at their hands and saw the disease present. They gazed over their feet and noticed that the disease still festered. Some looked to their missing limbs and saw no difference. 

But they obeyed. 

Strange, isn’t it? 

If to find a cure for our disease we prod our chests out, beat our breasts with vigor, and accept any adventure necessary to accomplish the task in mind to be cured. We would climb mountains, swim through crocodile-infested swamps, we would fight a lion or even swim from one sea to another. We would fight beasts, murder men, collapse buildings if it means we attain that one thing we need most in our healing! 

And here Jesus asks the lepers to present their unclean bodies to a priest to be inspected and declared clean.

Seeing how innocuous Jesus’ request was they simply went on about it. 

One can even imagine one or two of the ten lepers grumbling amongst themselves, “He won’t even come closer to chat with us. Some healer he is. And now we have to go and humiliate ourselves before the priest, possibly face criminal charges or death.”

But a bizarre thing begins to take place. As the lepers head for the temple ground, their skin begins to clear up. Their fingers possibly restored. Those who limped now walk on both feet, without trouble. The man without an eye is now able to see clearly with two eyes. A man, once ashamed of his gaunt and diseased face, who at one time would hide it behind a cloth now rips the cloth off and feels the smoothness of his face. A woman who before could withstand the disfigured look of her feet now stands in awe and smiles at them. 

You can imagine the jubilee, the joy, the ebullience of the ten lepers as their disease is swept away from their bodies. Their trip to the temple grounds is now one of absolute festivity compared to how hopeless their entry into the city was before.

As they make their way up, one of the ten stops to think about what just happened. Of the ten, only one looks back at Jesus and begins to shout his praises and his beatitudes. 

This man at first bleated and moaned his way into cities and towns but now he faces charges of disrupting the peace for shouting with such joy. 

This man fell at Jesus’ feet and gave him thanks. And Luke, the author of this gospel, makes note that this man was a Samaritan. He was an outcast because of his diseased and he was an outcast, considered of lower birth and importance in Israel, because of his nationality and ethnicity. He faced discrimination because of his illness and discrimination because of his faith, his upbringing, his geolocation, and his nationality. 

But here, before Christ, he is but a man before his Maker. 

Gratitude precedes blessing. It does not only proceed, comes after, but it precedes, rather, we give God thanks for things before they even happen in our lives. 

Olivet Theory

And Jesus is heard saying something, say, to the credit of the Samaritan whose heart he saw through and saw integrity. 

“Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one 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.’”

We find in this passage that God is good. And in this passage from the gospel of Luke, we see that gratitude precedes blessing. 

Gratitude precedes blessing. It does not only proceed, comes after, but it precedes, rather, we give God thanks for things before they even happen in our lives. 

We are thankful to God before God blesses us, not just after. 

“Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,” 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT

And I agree with Pastor Love’s thought that obedience leads to convenience in our walk with God because these ten lepers took a step of faith before anything had even happened for them.

They heard the voice of the Healer and they stepped forward in faith.

The only problem is that only one of them turned back and thanked the Healer for their healing. 

How often do we forsake the Healer once we receive deliverance? We forsake God once we have attained and accomplished that which we set off to accomplish. We made promises and swore by our name and now that we are restored we are off to institutions, rules, regulations, and patterns instead of turning back and falling at the feet of Christ. 

Words of Encouragement

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love is eternal. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love is eternal. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His love is eternal. Psalm 136:1-3

“My heart is confident, God; I will sing; I will sing praises with the whole of my being. Wake up, harp and lyre! I will wake up the dawn. I will praise You, Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth. Save with Your right hand and answer me so that those You love may be rescued.” Psalm 108:1-6

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:16-17

“giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”  Ephesians 5:20

Instead of questions to consider…

Focus on the blessings that God has given you in life, the blessings that God has allowed to triumph in your present, and place your faith in the God who has foreseen tomorrow and knows that He will guide you through it. 

Praise Him. Honor Him. Thank Him.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Be blessed, y’all. 

RISE

Published by olivettheory

My name is Jarrel and I'm a lover of words, people, odd behaviors, theology, independent films, all-immersive RPGs, Christian metal, podcasts, and history. Not in that order. I'm a writer... in training. Let’s read and talk about things together. This is my Olivet Theory. Husband - Dad - Dude

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: