Suggested Reading: Luke 17:11-19
In high school, I participated in a lot of theater productions and several UIL theater contests. In one particular contest, we were performing Anne of the Thousand Days, the story of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. At one point, one of the king’s many love interests was pulled away from the man she loved and taken to the king. In the judge’s assessment after the performance, that scene cost us a lot of points. The judge told us, “I didn't buy that those two were in love. They got pulled away from each other and they never even looked back. People who are in love look back. They try to see the person they are in love with for as long as possible. Especially if they will never see them again.” Essentially what he was telling us was that we couldn't simply say these two people were in love; they had to act like they were in love or no one would ever believe it.
Being in love, in a lot of ways is just like being thankful. In Luke 17, we are given the story of a man who was thankful. He had been with a group of lepers, outcasts because of their disease, who asked Jesus to heal them. Jesus instructed them to go show themselves to the priests and they would be healed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him-- and he was a Samaritan (Luke 17:15-16, NIV). This man wasn't simply grateful. He acted like he was grateful.
This Thanksgiving, we have the opportunity not only to give lip-service to our gratitude but to act like we are grateful. More and more, Thanksgiving is about the tradition of giving thanks rather than the act of giving thanks. Instead of taking our time and allowing everyone to express gratitude for something, one person expresses thanks and we call it good. Rather than taking time to savor our blessings or to serve someone because of our gratitude for God’s blessings, we hurry through the meals and the rush to watch the football games and complain about the messes we have to clean up. But if we really are thankful, people should be able to tell we are thankful by the way we behave.
Gratitude isn’t simply something we feel because we have been blessed. Gratitude is something other people can see in us.