Skip to main content

Is that a "feeling of gratitude" or an "action of Thanks-giving"?

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I'd again like to share some thoughts about the difference between "feelings of gratitude" on the one hand, and "actions of thanksgiving" on the other.


There's no better Bible story for making the distinction between "gratitude" and "thanksgiving" than the Gospel story of Jesus curing ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19).

In that passage, Jesus heals ten lepers of their disease.

But only one of those cured lepers turns back to give thanks.  

Now again, remember: ten lepers - ten different people - are cured of a dread disease, a disease that excluded them from society and reduced them to miserable lives as beggars.

Can you imagine? - one minute they are suffering from deteriorating skin and are social outcasts, and the next minute, at the healing word of Jesus, all of a sudden their skin is smooth and they are on their way to the temple to be restored to society.

The possibilities! The excitement! The feeling of gratitude!

The joy they must have felt.

In other words, all ten lepers were likely filled with an enormous sense of gratitude. How could they not be? - their lives had just been radicallyd.

But one of them, "seeing that he was cured," turned back, came back.  

One - only on man - gave thanks.

--Like the other nine, this man cried out for help;

--Like the other nine, this man was made clean (cured);

--Like the other nine, this man was going on his way to be restored to society.

But unlike the other nine, this man, "seeing that he was cured," turned back...came back, knelt down before Jesus.

This man, in other words, did something with his "feeling of gratitude" to turn it into an action of thanksgiving.

What's the difference? It's worth considering as we approach Thanksgiving Day:

"Gratitude" is a feeling...

..."thanks-giving" is an action.   
    
For example: I can be grateful for someone's initiative, hard work, team spirit and drive.

That is a thought...a feeling I have...an emotion.

Here's the thing: that someone may, OR MAY NOT be aware of my gratitude: how could they be?

People are not aware of our feelings of gratitude unless we take some action of thanksgiving.
  
So do yourself (and someone else) a favor, and

1)    Spend a few minutes thinking about something for which you are grateful. 

        For what, or whom, are you grateful?

Then:

2)    Figure out a way to translate your feeling of gratitude into a tangible, visible action of thanksgiving.

What note...email...phone call...small gift or favor...can you do between now and Thanksgiving Day to translate your

"feeling of gratitude"

into an

"action of Thanks-giving"?

Comments

  1. As always, I am truly inspired by your words, whether expressed from the pulpit or on paper. I am following your advice and want to thank you for being the extraordinary, inspirational man of God you are. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your beautiful family. You are missed and still very much in our hearts and prayers.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments encouraged. In the interest of responsible dialog, those commenting must sign with their full name. To prove you're a human and not a spam-bot, I've had to include a word verification step...sorry about that.

Popular posts from this blog

If there's a will, there's a way.

For Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.
But I'm re-thinking that this year.
What I'm fasting from this Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
(Let me be clear: that does not mean giving up news or otherwise burying my head in the sand: it means staying informed while finding ways not to get pulled into a downward spiral of feelings of numbness and helplessness; it means giving up unproductive feelings like hopelessness and resignation and taking on visible behaviors like giving encouragement and taking action.)
It means making visible -- here, on my blog, and even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories…

Fasting from Discouragement, Making Visible the Good

So for Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.

But I'm re-thinking that.
Now one of the things I'm thinking about fasting from during Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
That would mean taking on encouragement: to make visible -- even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories" as being quaint -- they are tossed in at the end of the news as an inspiring story, or put in the style section. But stories of good things happening -- people coming together to do things, is not a touchy-feely, feel-good story, but something affecting real change.
So for starters: I'm inspired by the leadership example of…