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The Simple Gospel: Thanksgiving

Being "thankful" to God is often spoken of as a "duty," and "obligation." While no objection can rightfully be registered to thanksgiving as such, we surely must not limit our understanding of it to this realm. One might as well think of watermelon as being composed only of rind, or of roses only of thorns if we fail to see the purely voluntary and "from-the-heart" side of thanksgiving. While duty and obligation define the obedient nature of the children of God, there is much more to our relationship to God than response to commands.

That being "thankful" is a command is evident from the scriptures. Both the Old Testament and the New remind us not to be forgetful of God’s bountiful blessings. Psalm 100:4 teaches, "…be thankful unto him and bless his name…" Colossians 3:15, after reminding us that the peace of Christ should rule our hearts, says, "…and be ye thankful." Without a doubt, we need such reminders. Like little children must be taught not to take favors from others for granted but to say "thank you," so also must we be reminded not to take God for granted. But here is the difference we must strive to see. A little child may be polite and, from the result of training in the home, say "thank you" when given something, observing etiquette alone, without feeling grateful in his heart. This is quite different from actually being thankful for the favor bestowed.

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In the Steps of the Savior: Giving Thanks

In Luke 17, the Bible tells us of a time when Jesus came to a village near the border of Galilee and Samaria while on His way to Jerusalem. As he came into the village, ten lepers were shouting to Him in the distance. They pleaded with Jesus to heal them saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

Jesus responded by commanding them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." No doubt this gave the lepers great cause for hope. Under the Old Testament regulations regarding lepers, there was no reason for a leper to go to the priest unless some change had occurred in his status. Leviticus 13 and 14 detail the tests for leprosy, the quarantine associated with it and the sacrifices to be given in the case of cleansing. The same trust that led them to seek healing from Jesus led them to do as He said and go to the priests. The text shows how their hope became a reality in the following words:

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