In the story, Jesus heals ten lepers of their disease, but only one of them turns back to give thanks. So – as I’ll be exploring further in Sunday’s sermon – it’s a lesson about the difference between “feelings of gratitude” and “actions of thanksgiving.”
As I said several years ago, I’m all for feelings of gratitude, and especially for translating those feelings into acts of thanksgiving, but I think the feeling of gratitude needs to be sincere and based on reality.
If our gratitude is forced, then our thanksgiving comes across as pandering; and even the person receiving it feels that it is contrived and insincere.
So I’ve never thought it is a good use of time to try to manufacture feelings of gratitude where none exist….trying to make yourself feel grateful for relationships or things for which you really aren’t grateful.
You know the dynamic I’m talking about…the finger-shaking we might have received as children: “You should be grateful for all you have, you-should-be-grateful-for-those-Brussels-Sprouts-don’t-you-realize-there-are-poor-starving-children-in-India-who-would-love-to-have those?”
I don’t think that finger-shaking produces gratitude, either in children or in us…whether that finger-shaking is from someone else, or if we are doing it to ourselves.
We believe that all good things we have in life are blessings from God, and that we should view all we have – our life, our liberty, our finances – as gifts from God, a proportion of which should be returned to God in thanksgiving.
We believe that our time – our days on this earth, our talent – our God-given passions and skills, and our treasure – our income, our financial resources, are all gifts from God, and that we should not hoard our gifts or keep them for ourselves, but share them with others, and that doing so brings great joy.
But haven’t you heard enough “Brussels Sprouts lectures?”?
Does anyone really feel motivated to give their precious time, talent, or treasure back to God out of a sense of “ought” or “should” or “must?”
I believe that instead of trying to manufacture feelings of gratitude that aren’t there and giving begrudgingly, it is better to spend a few minutes thinking about that for which you ARE grateful – and then figure out a way to translate your “feeling of gratitude” into an “action of thanksgiving.”
So – take a minute now on this gorgeous day, and ask yourself:
What are you grateful for?