Biblical Thanksgiving (Luke 17)

KidRecently I opined about some of the oddities of thanksgiving in America (not just the holiday, but including that, too). My basic conclusion was that Americans are not particularly thankful people. When we do try to muster up gratitude we often give thanks for the wrong things. My suggestion is that we turn to the Bible for wisdom about how to give thanks. Today I want to share a few thoughts from Luke 17:11-19. This is the story of the 10 lepers healed by Jesus. As you know, only 1 of these men came back to give thanks. As Luke describes this man’s return, we see a helpful picture of genuine gratitude.

  • True gratitude involves worship. Luke says the leper who returned was “praising God with a loud voice.” To quote the old hymn, until you are ready to praise God from whom all blessings flow, you are not ready to truly give thanks. True gratitude acknowledges God as the source of all good things and responds with worship.
  • True gratitude involves humility. Luke says the leper who returned “fell on his face at Jesus’ feet.” This is one aspect of gratitude that many Americans lack. We feel entitled. We believe God owes us good things. We don’t see ourselves as particularly sinful, so we don’t understand why God wouldn’t lavish us with the best. True gratitude is appropriately humble.
  • True gratitude involves speaking. Luke says the leper who returned to give thanks to Jesus. I’m sure the other nine guys would tell you they were grateful to be healed of leprosy. But only one man turned back to actually say the words “thank you.” I know I’ve been guilty of “feeling” appreciation without actually saying the words “thank you.”
  • True gratitude involves faith. Luke tells us this interaction ended with Jesus commending this man’s faith. Not only do we see the importance of faith in the return of this leper, but we also see a picture of true faith. True faith is centered on God and refuses to be satisfied with God’s gifts. Remember, the leper worshiped with humility. That’s true faith.

Originally published October 6, 2015 on