Festivals and offerings of thanksgiving go back thousands of years into Old Testament worship practices. As we celebrate our festival of thanks, let us ask ourselves what kind of Thanksgiving ought we to have?
Let us learn the kind of thanksgiving that pleases God.
We will look at two thanksgiving prayers, one right, one wrong from Luke 17 and 18.
10 Healed, 1 Saved
In the story of the thankful Samaritan (Luke 17:11-19), ten were healed but only one was pronounced saved by his faith. Were the other nine healed apart from their own faith? Without thankfulness are we not completely well, even though our disease is cured? Is giving praise to God part of being completely healed or saved and not just physical healing alone? Could it be that faith is part of being completely well? Could it be that without thanksgiving our faith is not complete? Could it be that there is a spiritual component to wellness that goes beyond mere physical healing alone? Could it be that complete wellness includes body, mind and spirit? Jesus saves us now from earthly troubles and forever from death. Eternal salvation is pictured in the Bible as eternal healing, wellness far beyond medical science?
One of the words used by Christians for the partaking of the bread and wine is Eucharist. It comes from the Greek word for what Jesus did that night he instituted one of Christianity’s most sacred rituals, he gave thanks (Matthew 26:27). The Greek word for thanks is from eucharisteo. It is in one sense a thanksgiving “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup.” Thanksgiving is part and parcel of the Christian life every day of the year, not just once a week or once a year. Praise and thanksgiving are vital parts of Christian worship. In the story of the thankful Samaritan (Luke 17:11-19) we can see how only one demonstrated any thanks. The other nine may have been thankful in heart, but they did not show it. In worshiping God we also give thanks.
In Luke 17:11-19 and 18:11 contrasts two thanksgiving prayers, a Jewish Pharisee and a Samaritan leper. Samaria contained a mixed-race people who only recognized the books of Moses. There was racial and religious tension between the two groups. Luke recorded James and John wanting to punish them, the Good Samaritan story and this thankful Samaritan. He also wrote Acts and recorded Philip’s Gospel work in Samaria. The Pharisee was physically pure. The Samaritan was unclean. The Pharisee believed he was better than everyone else. The Samaritan knew he was not. The Pharisee gave thanks in the holy temple. The Samaritan was on a road but also at Jesus’ feet. The Pharisee was thankful for what he has done. The Samaritan was thankful for what Jesus had done. The Pharisee praised himself. The Samaritan praised Jesus. What about us?
Wrong & Right Thanksgiving
In Luke 18:11 we see the wrong kind of thanksgiving, filled with pride and arrogance. It is the kind of thanksgiving we hear people pray sometimes even in church. It is praying like, “Thank you God that we are the best.” Such lack of humility is a kind of self-delusion, a lack of willingness to face the truth. In Luke 17:11-19 is the exact opposite, the right kind of thanksgiving. It is exuberant, enthusiastic and demonstrative thanksgiving. How many of our more reserved church members go wild when their favorite sports team wins, but express unenthusiastic, halfhearted and passionless thanks to God, unlike the Samaritan who gave thanks? Psalm 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31 helps us see the right kind of thanks. We thank God for he and his goodness, unfailing love and wonderful deeds for humanity.
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).