Gratitude; August 17, 2020

Luke 17:14, 19 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

This is a fascinating story on several levels. All 10 men in the story evidently had faith that Jesus was able to heal them. They had doubtless heard many stories of Jesus doing it for others. Jesus didn’t touch them, or even really come near them, but just told them to do what was necessary in order to be certified that they had been healed (much like the certificates about COVID-19 some people in America have been talking about). Simply acting on those instructions was the trigger for their healing. Famously, only one of the 10 then returned to thank Jesus and praise God. Jesus told him his faith had made him well, but the other nine had evidently also had such faith. I would venture a guess, however, that this man was far more deeply blessed by his healing than the other nine, because of his righteous response. The others were so self-centered that they forgot gratitude. That is a sad weakness indeed, and it cuts us off from untold blessings. So many people have a “what’s in it for me?” attitude toward religion and faith. I have heard Japanese Christians say that is the reason so few Japanese become Christians, but I’m sure the problem isn’t limited to Japan. The English theological term would be “transactional faith,” and in my view it is sterile and devoid of true joy. It is when we worship Jesus for who He is, and not for what we can get out of Him, that we are born again. Too many Americans familiar with the outline of the Gospel want a “ticket to heaven,” to be “into bliss and out of blister,” as my grandfather used to say. My grandfather had a very dim view of whether such people were even saved, and he had a point. Gratitude to God should be a signature characteristic of every true believer.

My own story of salvation is theologically messy, since I proclaimed my love for Jesus at age five and was baptized, by my own genuine decision, at age seven, but I was 24 when the Lord showed me my pride-filled heart and I collapsed in abject repentance. That experience was so dramatic that I requested, and received, a second baptism, but I don’t know that I wasn’t saved before then. I do know that I am a child of God now, and I am deeply, deeply grateful. I see so many differences between my attitude toward life and that of others, and I have trouble understanding how they can tolerate living! Gratitude is in a sense required of us, but it is also the key to happiness. I think God genuinely wants us to be happy, and that’s why the Bible tells us so many times to give thanks to Him, even for the things that aren’t fun at the time. I have a third basal cell carcinoma surgery coming up next week, and I am grateful for many things about it. I am grateful that it isn’t a worse form of cancer, I am grateful that I have a very good medical facility very close to my home, I am grateful that it can be done under local anesthesia so I won’t have to be intubated, and the list goes on and on. I am definitely in a high percentile of good health for someone my age, and I have God to thank, and I do.

Father, thank You indeed for bringing me along this far, and for the many examples of gratitude that I have had to follow over the years. I pray that my example would in turn cause others to open their eyes to Your incredible love and grace, for their salvation and Your glory Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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