INTRODUCTION

In this homily we want to take a closer look at a virtue that is inevitable in the entrenchment of healthy relationships between God and man and that involving humans. This virtue unlocks the fullness of life; it engenders happiness; it elevates our moods and fills us with joy; it is the most medicinal emotions we can feel; when we focus on this virtue, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in;

when you have this virtue, you will attract more good things to self; it is the sign of noble personalities; it is the gateway to grace; this virtue like faith, is a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it grows; this virtue turns what we have into enough, and more; It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It is obviously a virtue with potency.

This Virtue Came To Limelight In The Account Of Our Text

In the account of the text of the topic, ten lepers called out to Jesus, not necessarily to heal them but to have mercy on them. When Jesus saw them, he dispatched them to the priests, who would determine according to the Law of Moses whether they have been healed of leprosy or not.

The lepers immediately demonstrated their faith by following Jesus’ instruction even though they still had their disease. It was only on their way to meet the Priest; they discovered that they were made clean but only one of the men (a Samaritan) caught himself in the midst of the celebration and returned to Jesus and praised God. He showed gratitude for the healing he received. He was loud and public about it. He reversed his steps, put his family on hold, and came back to the cause of his healing and celebration.

Jesus at that point asked rhetorically, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Lk. 17:17-19).

This questioning is designed not for the missing nine or the Samaritan, but for the consideration of Jesus’ disciples and curious onlookers including the present day Christians.

MORAL LESSON FROM CASE STUDY

A myriad of lessons can be drawn from the encounter between Jesus Christ and the lepers. Overall, the lesson highlights the virtue earlier described and that is GRATITUDE, THANKFULNESS or APPRECIATION to God, especially for His mercy, love and affection bestowed on us through His beloved son, Jesus Christ. This therefore forms the crux of the deliberation.

 AIMS OF THIS HOMILY
  • To demonstrate that it is needful and overtly important for the saints of god to show appreciation to both God and man for any slightest favour received.
  • To emphasize that gratitude can be expressed by way of words or actions or a combination of both.
  • To support the fact that both God and man take delight in being appreciated.
GRATITUDE AMPLIFIED
  • Gratitude means thanks and appreciation. When one shows gratitude, it means one is pleased by what someone did for him or her and also pleased by the results. It is a feeling or expression of admiration, and approval; it also connotes understanding the worth or importance of (something or someone).
  • When you tell someone that you value his or her specific contribution, you are giving appreciation. When we show appreciation for something, we demonstrate our feelings through actions.
  • The words gratitude and thanksgiving which are synonyms to appreciation describe the state of being thankful or grateful due to a constant awareness of the positive aspects of one’s life. For many people, gratitude is actually a practice, something you work on doing on a daily basis.
  • It is rather sad to note that many persons including Christians are found wanting in the display of this virtuous act of living.
WHY SHOW GRATITUDE? 
  • Being grateful helps us see more blessings.
  • It rewards and encourages the behaviour we desire.
  • It makes people feel good and increases their energy and commitment.
  • It increases co-operation and teamwork.
  • It is good to give and costs nothing.
  • If you give it freely and frequently, you will eventually get some for yourself.
  • Being grateful makes us happier and healthier.
ASPECTS TO APPRECIATE GOD
  • When we survey the Scripture to see a myriad of reasons why we are called upon to be grateful for.
  • For loving us and being faithful (Psa. 52:9; 107:8).
  • For hearing our cry (Psa. 118:21).
  • For delivering us from the power of darkness (Col. 1: 12, 13).
ASPECTS TO APPRECIATE GOD
  • When we survey the Scripture to see a myriad of reasons why we are called upon to be grateful for.
  • For loving us and being faithful (Psa. 52:9; 107:8).
  • For hearing our cry (Psa. 118:21).
  • For delivering us from the power of darkness (Col. 1: 12, 13).
  • For safe arrival after a long, arduous journey (Acts 28:15).
  • For other believers and for the testimony of their faith (Rom. 1:8).
  • For the resurrection hope (1 Cor. 15:57).
  • For testimony, deliverance and victory in the midst of persecution (2 Cor. 2:14).
  • For other believers (Phil. 1:3; Col. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:3; Philem.4-7).
  • For being able to serve others for God (1 Tim. 1:12).
WAYS TO SHOW GRATITUDE TO GOD          
  • We are blessed with the unconditional love of God in our lives. How can we thank Him for this divine love, mercy and blessings? We can demonstrate gratefulness for the goodness of God in our life thus:
  • Giving Sacrificially To God: We should reciprocate the eternal love of God and Christ (John 15: 13), by giving of our means in a sacrificial manner like that widow at the temple (Mark 12: 41-44).
  • Love And Care For Others: We all need to love and care for the people around us as a mark of our demonstration of our gesture and gratitude to God, (1 Peter 4:10–11). James admonished the saints thus: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1: 27).
  • Contributing To The Spreading Of The Gospel: If we value the salvation brought to our reach by means of the Gospel of Christ, we should be grateful enough to release same Good News to those who are languishing in darkness. Apostle Paul advised Timothy thus: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2: 2).
  • Being Joyful: Joy is contentment and satisfaction. Finding joy in God means that He is enough and that we are contented and satisfied in Him.  “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done” (Philippians 4:4, 6).
  • Praying To Him: Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us through the model prayer to begin our prayers with words of thanks and extolling of the greatness of the Almighty God (Matt. 6: 9). We are also encouraged by Apostle Paul thus: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”(Philippians 4:6).
  • Thanking Him With Songs: Songs give our thanks and praise as well as extols the supremacy of God. We are to make “melody in your heart” at home, at work, on transit, at church and anywhere. The Children of Israel constantly used songs as potent means to appreciate the goodness of God in their lives. “And to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even” (1 Chronicles 23:30).
  • Follow His commandments: God has instituted an array of rules He wants us to live by. It is incumbent on us to understand them and do our best to follow them. ‘And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him’ (Colossians 3:17).
  • Praising Him In Good Times And In Bad: As Christians, we have to praise God no matter the situation. We should come to the realization that, whereas prayer moves mountains (Mark 11:22-24) but praises move God.
  • Walking The Walk: Do not just listen to the word, Follow it. Do not just read the Gospel alone. The Lord will be pleased as a result. John admonished us thus: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” ( 1: 3).
  • Worshiping Him: We were created to worship, thank and praise God the giver of all things. Hebrews 12:28 states,. ‘Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe’.
GRATITUDE INVOLVING HUMAN TO HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
  • Gratitude should not be an affair between man and God only; it should as well thrive healthily in human relationships involving humans. We hope to examine the import of gratitude to the wellbeing of these relationships
  • Gratitude Involving Spouses Relationship
  • Every day is filled with wonderful opportunities to tell the special person in your life, how grateful you are for the existing relationship. There are some simple ways to shower your husband or wife with well-deserved appreciation every day.
  • Thank your spouse because they care, not because it is their job.
  • Tell them why you are grateful for their act of kindness.
  • Acknowledge their time and thoughtfulness.
  • Look for the positives to appreciate even in negative circumstances.
  • Let them know how important they are to your success.
  • Praise and thank them in private and public.
  • Go out of your way when they need help.
  • Write and leave surprise “Thank You” notes as often as necessary.
Gratitude Involving Parents-children Relationship
  • Children should take a moment to appreciate the people who worked so hard to prepare them for the future. Our parents gave us countless hours of their time, teaching us, guiding us, and correcting us when we made mistakes. As children, we can demonstrate our gratitude to our parents in the following ways:
  • Living Their Lessons: One of the ways to show our parents appreciation for their selfless service is to simply live out these lessons. Demonstrate to them that you listened, and that you appreciate what they taught you.
  • Making Them a Gift: Creating a gift for your parents can be an extra special way of making them feel appreciated
  • Showing Them Love: Your parents love you, and like anyone, they appreciate being loved in return. Take every opportunity to make them feel appreciated by demonstrating loving acts.
  • Thanking Them: Be sure to thank your parents for everything they do for you. Express your love and appreciation not only in words, but in actions as well
  • Making Out Time For Them: Time is valuable to us all, and it is an increasingly scarce and precious resource. Giving someone time makes them feel important, loved, and valued. Therefore, create time to stop by and visit your parents.
  • Gratitude Magnified In Religious Circles
  • If your appreciation for leaders of the Church is never expressed, then it will be relatively hard for them to know that you actually harbor good feelings about them. The scriptures is full of copious instances where members of the Church should demonstrate their appreciation towards their leaders.
  • Praying For Church Leaders: One of the most important ways we can show appreciation in religious circles is by praying for Church leaders. Apostle Paul explained this in Colossians 4:2-4. Thus; “Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may make it known as I should“. Hebrews 13:18-19 also encourages us to pray for the workers in the Lord’s vineyard.
  • Following Godly Examples: According to Hebrews 13:7, we show our appreciation for the efforts of our religious leaders when we follow their godly examples. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Hebrews 13:7).
  • Following Instructions: One way of appreciating the efforts and commitments of leaders of the church is to abide by their instructions to follow Jesus. News of the Church’s fidelity to Christ was all that the Apostle John needed to be encouraged: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). Obviously, nothing will make your Minister, Elder or Deacon happier than for you to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
  • Living A Faithful Life: Apostle John emphasized in 3 John 1:3-4 thus: “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” This truly is one of the ways of showing appreciation to leaders of the Church.
  • Living A Faithful Life: Apostle John emphasized in 3 John 1:3-4 thus: “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” This truly is one of the ways of showing appreciation to leaders of the Church.
  • Supporting Church Leaders: The Lord commanded that those who preach the good news should be supported by those who benefit from. 1 Corinthians 9:14 says, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel”. The context of this verse makes it plain that our Ministers should be given a fair salary and emolument in addition to material support from individual members.
  • Supporting Church Leaders: Also, Paul reiterated the fact that was existent even from ancient times, “For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen” (1Cor. 9:9).
  • Honouring And Respecting Them: In fact, Apostle Paul tells us to be intentional in encouraging and respecting our church leaders. “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” (1 Thessa. 5:12-13). Also, the writer of Hebrews puts it thus, ‘Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you’ (Heb. 13: 17).
Gratitude In Other Human Relationships
  • Workplace interaction
  • Master – servant engagement
  • Extended family setting

 

THE POWERS OF GRATITUDE
  • Gratitude Is An Essential Ingredient For Joy: Joy is an inner sense of contentment, which flows from a deep assurance that all God’s purposes are good and He is in complete control of every situation. There is practically no way we may ‘rejoice always’ according to 1 Thess. 5:16, without being grateful in everything (v. 18). That is why ungrateful people are so ill-tempered and dissatisfied.
  • Thanksgiving Helps Bring Our Will Into Submission To God. When the situation we are experiencing is the last thing we would ever desire, showing appreciation to the Lord is a great step towards being able to emulate Christ’s example in which He was quoted thus:, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In essence, gratitude helps us acknowledge that God’s will is best, even if the situation is tough.
  • A Grateful Attitude Strengthens And Motivates Unbelievers: The world is filled with people who are angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed with the difficulties of life. But a Christian with a grateful attitude is like a light shining in a dark place. The people around you will want to know why you do not grumble and complain the way everyone else does. Then you can tell them about your wonderful Savior.
  • Thanksgiving Energizes Us During Moments Of Weakness: Most of us can handle short trials, but if they continue for a long period of time, the emotional and physical strain start to diminish. God has promised to give strength to the weary, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:29).
  • Gratitude Brings God On The Scene Of Our Affairs: God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). When you are enveloped in the act of gratefulness, you invite God’s glory and His presence to fill your life and your situation.
  • Great Blessings Promised: To those who are grateful, The Lord said, “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more”
  • Thanksgiving And Praise Strengthens Our Faith: Romans 4:20 says, Abraham “grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God. As you praise God and speak of His marvelous works, you are reminded of all that God has done, and your faith in God and His plan for you increases.
  • It Is For Our Own Good: Feeling and expressing appreciation is good for us. Like any wise father, God wants us to learn to be thankful for all the gifts He has given us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). It is in our best interest to be reminded that everything we have is a gift from Him. Thankfulness keeps our hearts in right relationship to the Giver of all good gifts.
DANGERS OF INGRATITUDE
  • When people are not grateful they tend to complain, and that is not good for anyone. For example, even though the Lord had delivered the Israelites from slavery and given them manna to eat, they were not grateful. Notice what happens: “And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it” (Numbers 11:1). So the Lord hears when we complain, and He does not like it.

Without gratefulness, we become arrogant and self-centered. We begin to believe that we have achieved everything on our own. A great many dangers exist for lack of appreciation and a few are discussed thus:

  • We Will Repel The Presence Of God Within Us: The Psalmist teaches us that God dwells in the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). This also can be reversed: when we do not have an attitude of gratefulness towards God, we can repel His personal presence within us, which grieves His Spirit and hurts our ability to fellowship intimately with Him.
  • God Cannot Trust Us With More Blessings; God will always multiply the things in our lives that we are most grateful for. He will not trust us with whatever we not thankful for because we do not appreciate it.
  • We Will Suffer Continual Discouragement And Depression: If we are not continually and intentionally ordering our minds to think on the good things of God, we will not enjoy the peace of God during troubled times (Philippians 4:8-9). This can lead to discouragement and severe depression. The greatest tool in fighting depression is not medication but worshipping the Creator and being thankful to Him for every good thing He has given us from above (James 1:17).
  • We Will Repel Key People Around Us: When we are deficient of gratitude, we will not value the key people God has put in our lives, leading to increased negative feelings about these people in our minds. This result in us repelling them by our negative speaking and communication towards them. When we live lives of constant complaining, grumbling and lack of thankfulness, we will induce the wrong spirit in our homes and nurture families who are ungrateful towards one another and even towards God.

 

EXAMPLES OF GREAT PERSONALITIES THAT DEMONSTRATED GRATITUDE
  • Hannah: She gave her son Samuel back to the Lord. Hannah’s praise was not just the reflection of an answer to prayer, but it proceeded giving up her son. With all her heart she praised God in the aftermath of turning over her biggest prayer request. (1 Samuel 1:26-28).
  • David: David danced before the Lord in the streets as a response of praise to his Holy God. He worshiped after the death of his son. David is a man known for praise. Even in the darkest seasons of his life–as we see in the psalms, he pointed back to the goodness of God. No matter what season David found himself in, he always had the perspective of gratitude.

 

David blessed the Lord with all that was within him, which led him to recounting continually all the blessings of the Lord that continued to multiply in his life (Psalm 103). David also affirmed that he cannot give to God what does not cost him anything.(1Sam. 24: 24).  In Sam. 9: 1-13, David showed love and kindness to Mephibosheth for his friend, Jonathan’s sake. We can learn salient lessons from that kind of attitude. Of a truth, it was not always easy with David, but he knew gratitude was always necessary.

 

  • The Healed Leper: Of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, (Luke 17), only one returned to Jesus to show gratitude him. That man threw himself at the feet of Jesus and gave immense thanks. It was hard to conjecture that only one man returned to give thanks for healing from a debilitating disease. When nine of the healed lepers vanished into the crowd, one gave.

 

  • Our Lord Jesus Christ: It is a known fact that He was God and did not have to give thanks for anything, but he often did. Jesus set remarkable example for us in many ways but one was in showing gratitude. He was a man who gave praise to the Father in so many ways.

 

  • He gave thanks as he was surrounded by thousands of hungry people and multiplied the food. “And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all” (Mark 6: 40-41).
  • He gave thanks to God for hearing his prayer for the raising of Lazarus–before Lazarus rose from the grave. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 11: 41-42).
  • He knew the cross was before him and gave thanks to the Father as he broke bread and drank the cup with the disciples.
  • We have a perfect example of righteous living from Jesus and one thing he shows us is the position of praise and thanksgiving in our existence.

 

CONCLUSION

  • We are to be grateful not only for the things we like, but for the circumstances we do not like. When we purpose to thank God for everything that He allows to come into our lives, we keep bitterness at bay. Giving thanks to God keeps our hearts in right relationship with Him and saves us from a host of harmful emotions and attitudes that will rob us of the peace God wants us to experience (Phil. 4:6,7).
  • We can have thankful hearts toward God even when we do not feel thankful for the circumstance. We can grieve and still be thankful. We can hurt and still be thankful. Obviously, it pays to demonstrate appreciation to both God and man.

 

          Presented by Bro. I. E. Archibong
          22nd April 2018.

 

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