Dear Members and Friends of Central,
Although I have not had an opportunity to pen a letter to you in a number of weeks, please know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers. I am extremely grateful for all that I see God doing in and through us.
I started a new sermon series last week about what it means to be profoundly grateful. In our text (Luke 17:11-19), we discovered that Jesus healed ten lepers. But, only one of them was grateful enough to return and give Jesus praise and thanks for healing him. I’ve often wondered why the remaining nine didn’t have the same response.
But before I delve into that, I must first acknowledge the faith of these men. They knew that Jesus possessed the power to heal them. So, they cried out for His help. When Jesus “saw” them, He told them to show themselves to the high priest. His instructions served more than one purpose:
- It informed them of what they needed to do to be healed of their dreadful disease. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Jesus gave them instructions and they demonstrated their faith in Him by obeying Him.
- The priest would “see” that they were healed and grant them the legal access they needed to return to their homes and resume normal lives.
All ten of the men followed Jesus’ instructions and were cleansed as a result of their obedience. However, when one of them “saw” that he was healed, he was profoundly grateful.
As I read the scriptures about this miracle, forms of the word, “see” stood out to me. I recognized that our perspective–the way we “see” people and things affects how we respond to them. I believe that the man who returned to thank Jesus realized that his healing would not merely help him physically, but it would positively impact every aspect of his life. In those days, it was customary for lepers to be cast out of their villages, considered unclean and treated as spiritually dead. Since this man was a Samaritan, life had been even harder for him. That’s why he was profoundly grateful for the Lord’s mercy and miraculous power on his behalf.
Likewise, many of us praise and thank God when blessings first manifest in our lives, such as when we receive a job offer; when we say, “I do”; when we recover from an injury; when we receive a favor from a friend or family member; or when we confess Jesus as our Savior. We are profoundly grateful when these events initially happen because we “see” the benefits of these blessings. But, as time goes by, the newness wears off and we are tempted to take our blessings for granted because we aren’t “seeing” through the same lens. When we see through a lens of gratitude, we can clearly see our blessings as benefits, advantages, victories and miracles. But, when we see through a lens of pride or selfishness, our perspective is clouded because we are focusing on shortfalls, imperfections, irritations and frustrations. It seems that the more some of us get, the more ungrateful we become.
We have to be intentional about maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Just as it takes effort and energy to maintain our appearance and good physical health, it requires effort for us to enhance our spiritual health and express gratitude to God and the people He uses to bless us.
There is a deep warning within this text to everyone, especially those of us who reside in America, where there is an abundance of resources. The warning is: Appropriately acknowledge your blessings.
Let’s collectively and individually put forth the effort to maintain a grateful heart; to “see” our glasses as half-full instead of half-empty; and ask the Lord to enable us to show Him and others that we are truly and profoundly grateful for all of our blessings, especially the gift of eternal life! This will require us to become more diligent, thoughtful and spiritually sensitive than we are today. But, thank God, we can do all things through Christ which strengthens us!
I hope that you will take on the challenge of becoming profoundly grateful and enjoy the attached PowerPoint slides from my sermons over the last two weeks on this topic.
Grace & Shalom!
Pastor Perry Stuckey