(February 19, 2021) Robert and Maureen McQuillan zero in on an attitude problem…
December’s article Time-of-Confusion-and-Uncertainty highlighted how so many are touched on getting a smiling ‘Thank you.’
Often, it’s someone with problems blessed on hearing such expressions of gratitude… their mind being distracted from issues heavy on the heart.
The reality is that we humans really do expect to hear a thank you when we help someone (we even make a point of teaching our kids to say thank you).
After all, it’s kind, thoughtful and courteous to honour whoever has touched our life in some way, small or nor not so small.
With that thought in mind, have you ever considered how Jesus must have felt when after he touched lives in a big way, he wasn’t immediately thanked? Such as that occasion when he miraculously helped ten lepers and they chuffed off thanklessly (Luke 17:12-19).
But wait… one did come back, expressing gratefulness with thanks and praising God!
This thankful outcast had such a grateful heart that he…
- Returned ‘…shouting his gratitude, glorifying God’ (v15Mge).
- Was ‘so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough’ (v16Mge).
- Unreservedly ‘…threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him’ (v16NIV).
Gratefulness is a matter of attitude! Being grateful, saying thanks indicates a right attitude, a characteristic Christians are supposed to have – and demonstrate!
‘Thanks’ is eucharisteo – expressing gratitude: the word used by Jesus praising his Father in advance of the miraculous feeding of thousands, and when giving thanks for the first communion (Matthew 15:36 and 26:27).
It’s great that most Christians still embrace what’s been called ‘Saying grace’ before meals… not just at home but boldly in dine-out eateries.
We should be thankful for all we owe God… but have you ever considered saying thanks to God is a means of glorifying him?
Vines’ Expository Dictionary notes that ‘thanksgiving’ in Colossians 2:7 is the expression of joy Godward and believers are encouraged to abound in it. Verses 6-7 Message read, ‘You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him…. let your living spill over into thanksgiving.’
Pondering that leprosy miracle incident told by Dr Luke, one senses Jesus must have been disappointed that no one thought to thank him. And that he must have been delightfully surprise when one with the right attitude returned to do so. And a Gentile at that!
No wonder verses 17-18 have Jesus asking, ‘Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’
Earlier (verse 13GNB), all ten shouted to Jesus with loud voices begging mercy (eleeo –compassion) and all had been miraculously healed… but now nine are silent, thankless; only this Gentile has the right heart to express thankfulness to the greatest compassionate one ever.
In keeping with the Leviticus 13 tradition, Jesus had told them to go see the priests for assessment. And even as they obeyed, they had been cured (V14)! But… this thankful man was a Gentile; he couldn’t go to a local Jewish priest.
Instead he choose to return to the one that Hebrews 4:14 would name the ‘great high priest.’ (Hebrews 4:16Mge is such a great, comforting encouragement to trouble souls: ‘So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give’).
Jesus hadn’t demanded praise or glorification for himself when he answered the lepers’ cries and disappointment now turns to delight as God is glorified. This ‘great high priest’ immediately confirms to the grateful Gentile that he didn’t need a Jewish priest to assess him: ‘Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you’ (V19NLT).
‘Glory’ here is doxa, signifying the very apparent honour and praise to God that he is worthy of. This was surely an occasion to glorify God! Like Naaman in 2 Kings 5:15 and this Gentile, may we too be spontaneously prompt in thanking – glorifying – God every time he blesses us!
But, down to the bone… if gratitude is a Christian attitude, then what does ingratitude indicate?
This incident of Jesus not hearing back from those who asked for his help, and had received it, reminds us that caring believers (including ourselves) often discover ingratitude too. We, of course, don’t want ‘God-glory-ascription’ thanks, and trusting that God is glorified, we let such thoughtlessness go rather than dwell on it.
However, as our theme here centres on being thankful, let’s nail something here… at the request of friends (even church leaders, and some unchurched folk), caring Christians willingly seek God’s intervention on their behalf. This may mean repeatedly spending time, no matter how inconvenient, sincerely interceding. And believing our caring God will graciously answer our prayers and bring answers, even miracles.
But many times carers don’t hear back from those prayed for! Not a word about how they’re going! Only when we’ve phoned – or, sadly, discovered through a third party – do we learn the latest, especially about answered prayers! Blessed individuals have never considered updating prayerers, never mind express thanks (as pointed out, the right thing to do!).
Admittedly we have received thankyous from some happy and grateful people who received blessings, but at times they’ve been from non-Christians!
It’s really bad news that Christians who request prayerful help and are blessed don’t consider contacting whoever cared compassionately for them. Saying a simple thank you is absent! Like Jesus, we query this lacking in some people.
Paul often asked friends and churches to care for him and pray (Romans 15:30-33; 2 Corinthians 1:10-11; Ephesians 6:19-20; Philippians 1:19-20; Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; Philemon 22). And he definitely expressed his gratification! (Romans 16:4NLT is an example of his gratitude towards anyone who in any way cared for him: ‘I am thankful to them’).
[Incidentally: Thank you, everyone who covers us in prayer regarding our ministry, health and life in general! Your prayers are answered repeatedly!]
Many times scripture speaks of God’s graciousness – his undeserved favour. This is an act of mercy or compassion by one in a position to share it, whose spirit is moved to act in such a way. (Does this have you thinking about God’s grace? We recommend Dr Jim McClure’s free Grace Revisited, link: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Graciousness also speaks of kindness, thoughtfulness, warmth, geniality, hospitality, and more… all Christian characteristics. God is all these and more – so abundantly gracious. We owe him so much… the least we can do is thank him, thus glorifying him!
The Bible challenges us to be thankful for God’s graciousness. New Testament examples are 2 Corinthians 9:15, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 2:7; 3:15; 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Hebrews 12:28-29 and Revelations 7:12; 11:17. Ephesians 5:20 reads, ‘Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.’
Graciously washed in the blood of the lamb and made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), we have so much to be thankful for… (personally, we begin every morning glorifying God and acknowledging him in everything, thanking him for so much that he’s done for us).
Like that Gentile falling at Jesus’ feet we inferior humans ought to be stooping before our superior God, glorifying him. Yet… all we have do is to bow before him in our hearts, counting our blessings!
In these troubled times it’s good to reflect on those precious lyrics of Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman, Jr, which used to be found framed in Christian homes –
‘Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.’
Let’s count our blessings, not our problems!
Something else here… we’ve just come through a challenging 2020 with covid-19 deaths, associated lockdowns, closed churches, suicides, financial losses, rebellions, national crises, and increased crime. This journey continues in 2021, with further uncertainty looming around us and people worldwide looking to government leaders for longtime answers and peace of heart and mind.
It’s a time when the world needs to ‘get back to God’ (especially worrying Christians who should know better!); to learn from that thankful Gentile who turned back – hupostrepho: returned – to acknowledge God (Luke 17:15).
Hallelujah for good medical people and caring politicians but we need to return to and be directly looking to God, not merely such individuals nor church leader, or person in governmental leadership alone!
‘God is still in control’ is a good catchphrase these days… but let’s make it real! Gyration is a descriptive word here… means to turn around and around (usually quickly) on a fixed point. Our thinking must be gyrating around our all-powerful God and his ability to protect and bring us through!
In John 3:14 and 12:32, Jesus talked about being ‘the fixed point’ – ‘When I am lifted up (hupsoo, exalted) from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ Joel 2:12-13 comes to mind: ‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart… Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…’
In Return to God, Coptic orthodox patriarchate H. H. Pope Shenouda III has much to say about reconciliation with God. Emphasising looking to God in all things, covering every need, he concludes encouragingly: ‘When you are reconciled with God, be prepared to feel a change in your life. Do not carry on living in the same way, with the same character and behaviour and thoughts, but let your reconciliation with God change your life, for the better.’
As we move further into an uncertain 2021, may we all –
- Remember with joy that our gracious Lord is still in control.
- Look to God, beyond human resources, with deep gratification.
- Always gives thanks.
- Update those who have been, are, praying for us.
- Take very opportunity to ‘lift up Jesus’ before the unsaved.
- Help them discover the Saviour who has all the answers.
- Expect revival as we’ve never known revival!
May we not disappoint Jesus in any way!
Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan’s links are OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook (Scriptures mainly NIV/all emphases in this Onliner ours. Appreciated images/pics: various general sources). Links: Carol Round’s Recover-Your-Life-With-Jesus-Help / Maureen McQuillan’s Moving-Out-of-Our-Comfort-Zones-in-2021
Thanks for this insight. I’m sure I may too often not have been as thankful as I should. I was reminded of the words of a song ‘Give thanks — with a grateful heart…’ Lord help me to have a (more) grateful heart.
Thanks, Brian… this article was a reminder to ourselves! That old chorus ‘Give Thanks’ is a classic in this connection.
Yes, one of the greatest blessings we can have is a grateful heart.