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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

More for the Thankful

Giving is an expression of gratitude. You probably think of thanksgiving that way, but in reality most gifts are given as a result of thankfulness. Think about it. If you aren’t giving because of gratitude, are you even giving? You may be offering a bribe (exchanging something for a favorable outcome) or selling something (exchanging it for personal gain) and telling yourself that it’s a gift. What differentiates an exchange from a true gift, one with no strings attached, is the inner sense of appreciation or gratitude which predicates the gift.

God made this connection between gratitude and giving clear when He laid out the instructions for giving to the children of Israel. In Deuteronomy 26:11 (NKJV), God says the process of giving is how “you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house.” This process of rejoicing is the process of expressing gratitude. We give as an outlet for our thankfulness.

We are made in the image of God. He is the pattern and we are the copies. We are givers because God is a giver. Jesus explains this principle in Matthew 7:11: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” God’s nature is to give because He loves us, but make no mistake, God also gives in response to gratitude. Gratitude moves us to give because gratitude moves God to give.

We are made in the image of God, but He is greater than us. Here’s where God outshines people as it relates to giving. People typically only give in response to their own gratitude. If I am thankful about something, that doesn’t move you to give. Likewise, if you are thankful, that doesn’t move me to give. We each give as a result of our own thankfulness. But God doesn’t limit His giving to His own thankfulness, He also gives in response to my thankfulness and yours!

Consider the story of Jesus healing ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus saw everyone’s need, was moved with compassion, and healed all ten of them. But there was only one of them, a Samaritan, who returned to express thanks to Jesus. Jesus makes mention of this and tells the man that his faith has made him well. This statement raises an important question: If Jesus healed all ten of them, then weren’t they all made well? Yes and no. There are three separate Greek words used in this story that help explain the levels of healing they received. The first word basically means symptom-free. It is used when Jesus made all ten lepers symptom-free where they could be approved by the priests to rejoin their families, friends, and community. The thankful Samaritan saw this and perceived that the underlying disease was healed. The second word refers to the healing of a disease. Understanding that only God had the power to heal a disease, the thankful Samaritan returned to praise God and thank Jesus. The third word indicates salvation. The thankful Samaritan, accepting Jesus as having the power of God, received salvation by his faith. While this likely included spiritual salvation, it probably also referred to physical salvation--a full restoration of the man’s pre-leprosy physical condition. If he had lost digits, limbs, or organs to the disease, they were restored. This is a level of healing that the other nine lepers did not receive.

All ten lepers wanted to be symptom-free so they could stop quarantining and rejoin society. Jesus provided that for them, but He was so moved by the thankful Samaritan’s gratitude that He completely restored him. The others were symptom-free, but the thankful Samaritan was saved and completely restored. God will bless people because of His goodness, but our thankfulness moves Him to do more.

What does this mean for us? In short, there is more in store for the thankful. That doesn’t mean that you need to give more to appear more thankful in some vain attempt to get God to bless you more. However, if you are giving out of guilt or obedience without an attitude of gratitude, you are missing out. Check your heart when you are giving. If you are so focused on your need or God’s future blessings, then you are not giving with a thankful heart. Think back on the direction your life was headed, how He saved you, and how much better off you are because of His goodness. Meditate on God’s faithfulness in your life. Count your blessings! And keep doing it until you have cultivated an attitude of thankfulness. Once your heart is right, give as an expression of your gratitude, and watch how God responds. There is more in store for the thankful!


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