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Only One Came Back

With Thanksgiving upon us, I’ve been thinking a bit about thankfulness–and how little we see it around us today. We take so much for granted anymore. Unlike earlier times, when people didn’t have as much and had to work hard for what they did have, I think we appreciated what we did have a whole lot more than we do now. As the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt, and having so much breeds ingratitude for what we do have.

I was reminded of this the other day when I read the account of how Jesus healed the ten lepers (Luke 17). Only one of them returned to thank Jesus for that wonderful gift of restored health. Jesus blessed him but asked, “Where are the [other] nine?” They were off enjoying their restored health with no thought of gratitude for His healing.

But before we hastily condemn those nine ungrateful former lepers, we should take a good look in the mirror. Don’t we, too, take an awful lot for granted? We live in the greatest, richest country in the world, enjoy the blessings of liberty, plenty, and other of God’s blessings but seldom pause to thank Him for it all. In fact, we sort of look upon it all as our right, and we too often complain about what we do have.

Many of us will stand in line for hours in the wee watches of the dark night for a chance to purchase some material item that will be used up, worn out, torn up, lost, or stolen soon thereafter without giving a thought to those who must work to make that item available to us or to the God who has blessed us with the financial and physical means to obtain it. We’ll spend hours pushing and shoving and elbowing total strangers and waste time we could be spending in meaningful interaction with those who should be the closest to us.

Such ingratitude and unthankfulness is a prophesied sign of the end times (2 Tim. 3:2). It seems that the more we have the less we appreciate it. That’s a sad commentary on our modern times. As the founder of my alma mater was fond of repeating to his audiences, “When the seed of gratitude dies in the heart of a man, that person is well nigh hopeless.”

The good news is that there’s something we can do about it! Pause to consider what you have to enjoy. Start being truly thankful, and begin expressing that appreciation to others. To God. To family. To those around us who help make our lives better not only by what they might do for us or give to us but also by simply being there with us. Consider how sad it is to be all alone, especially at these holidays. As the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons approach, stop to think of those who have lost spouses or other loved ones recently and who will be spending what should be happy, family-centered times all alone. And thank God if you are blessed with companionship.

Don’t be part of the 90 percent (like the nine healed but ungrateful lepers) who fail to show their appreciation for what God has given them. Rather, be a 10 percenter, like the one thankful healed leper, who truly appreciate the bounty with which God has bless them. Start counting your blessings, and you’ll find that your problems seem so much fewer and smaller.

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