In President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863, he told us to set apart and observe “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Though secular culture has made the day about food, family, and football, the holiday still retains the name. But, does anyone ever ask, “To whom are we giving thanks?”
I. Luke 17:11-14. On the border between Galilee and Samaria, Jesus encounters an ethnically mixed group of lepers who had enough faith to call out to Him for healing (Mark 11:22-24). Jesus tells them all–even those not part of the covenant–to go show themselves to the priests (Leviticus 13), and as testament to their faith, they all head towards Jerusalem while they still have the disease that makes them unclean and unable to mix with people.
II. Luke 17:15-19. All ten were healed, but only one turned back to thank Jesus–and that one was a foreigner to the covenant and Law. From this we can see that God wants us to give thanks. He doesn’t need our thanks, but He wants us to acknowledge His blessings to us in gratitude. The healing happened before the Samaritan returned to give thanks and so wasn’t dependent on his action, but God approves of our ‘attitude of gratitude.’ Also, Jesus remarks that it was one who didn’t have the Law, sacrifices, temple, or priesthood who gave thanks when those who had the advantage of those things just continued on their way. Alike under sin (Romans 3:9), we are all able to come to Christ through faith (Ephesians 2:12-15).
III. Colossians 3:16. God’s Word dwells in us richly when we sing with thankfulness in our hearts. That’s the simple message of the song, “Give Thanks.” Alike in sin, we are given God’s Son on the cross and at the tomb to overcome sin and give us life (John 3:16; Romans 7:24). The result in us should be thankfulness in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) as we recognize what God has done for us (Romans 8:31-32). So, do you give thanks?
Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He’s given, Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say, “I am strong,” Let the poor say, “I am rich
because of what the Lord has done for us.”