I saw a sign on a marquee that said, “Get Rich Quick, Count Your Blessings.” How true! I read a story a few years ago that bears repeating. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, the pangs of starvation – you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death, you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep – you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top 8% of the worlds’ wealthy. If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the USA. If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all. Count your blessings!
As we enter the Thanksgiving and Christmas Season, our Attitude toward the Lord is very significant in maintaining a spirit of joy that not only impacts us, but those around us.
HOW can we learn to overcome the danger of Ingratitude? Jesus gives us some insight from a Leper in Luke 17: 11 – 19. Ten men had the incurable disease of leprosy. Leprosy was a skin disease that left discolored patches of skin on the face and body, sponge like tumors or growths that disfigured the face and body, affected the internal organs and eventually culminated in death. It also impacted people “emotionally.” Once you were diagnosed, your family would have your funeral, because you were separated due to the contagious disease. When someone came near you, you were forced to shout …Unclean! Talk about rejection.
With that in mind, 10 lepers saw Jesus and cried out, “have mercy on us.” He healed them and told them to go and show themselves to the priests, which was the custom of the day to validate healing. Only one of the ten returned to Thank Jesus. He was a Samaritan, which was half-Jewish and half-Assyrian; an outcast of society and often looked down upon by the Jewish people. The other nine were Jewish.
The grateful Leper teaches me several things about learning to be thankful. First, our PRIDE often keeps us from seeing ourselves as we really are. The other nine Jews saw their physical need, but not their spiritual need. The Samaritan recognized both. We need a Savior, as well as a healer. Does our pride hinder our spiritual insight?
Our Pride Often Keeps Us From Seeing Ourselves As We Really Are
Second, the grateful leper teaches me that ungratefulness often leads us to believe that God OWES us, rather than He GIVES to us. The Jewish lepers were not grateful, because they believed God owed them due to their heritage. We can see that mentality today with our expectations. As Christians, we too believe God owes us. A few years back Karen and I were eating at a restaurant. As I looked over the variety and abundance of food, I remembered a Missions trip to Africa several years earlier. If the people in the Congo could see all this food, they would think they were in heaven. Yet I was simply taking the food for granted. Thank You Lord for an abundance and a variety of healthy food that you have provided for me.
Third, the grateful leper communicates to me that many receive, but only a FEW are grateful. Ten were healed but only one returned to say Thank You. I don’t want to go through life with an attitude of ungratefulness. Do you? The ungrateful rarely walk in a spirit of joy. Each of us can get rich quick on a daily basis by counting our blessings. Perhaps as a part of our daily prayer, we should make it a “priority” to ask the Holy Spirit to help us with our focus, to maintain a healthy perspective. We are a Blessed People! I saw a sign that said, “If you’re not thankful, you must be a turkey.”
Some years back at the Minnesota state fair a man in a wheelchair was eating with his family under one of many tents. He was so happy; telling others how great the exhibits and the food were. A pastor was sitting nearby and asked the man WHY he was so joyful. The man in the wheelchair responded, “When I first had my accident that confined me to this wheelchair, I was angry and a miserable man. I was angry at God and everyone else. I made life miserable for my family and others around me. I dropped out of church and quit praying to God. After several months of self-pity, I finally submitted to returning to our church. Once again the Holy Spirit began to stir my soul. Within a few weeks, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking a truth to me. If you can stop looking at all you lost and begin to looking at all you have left, you can once again find the Joy of the Lord.”
What a great truth for each of us to apply. All the Blessings we have. If you want to get rich quick and STAY RICH…. don’t forget to count your blessings. Name them one by one and see what God has done. A grateful and joyous spirit is not only a fruit of the Spirit, but is also contagious to others! Our Attitude does determine our Altitude in life.
Joy Thrives in the Soul of Thanksgiving