Giving thanks. Being thankful. Seems like the same thing but there is a difference. One is proactive, the other reactive. Is either one wrong? Absolutely not! Both are right. Both are needed.
Consider an obvious Scriptural example. Dr. Luke tells a true story of ten men, which he records in Luke 17:12-18. If we cheat and glance at the end of the story first, we find nine of the men are Jews and one a Samaritan. For now though, they are all men with a death sentence hanging over their head called leprosy.
All ten huddled together outside a village Jesus was entering. They get His attention by calling out to Jesus for mercy. Jesus sees them and tells them to go show themselves to the Priest. So, off they go.
As they were going to the Priest, at some point, they realized they were healed. Similar thoughts ran through the minds of all ten men. Their strength renewed, all they could think of was getting to the Priest… except one.
Before you look around for some stones to throw at the other nine, put yourself in their sandals. They were in a hopeless situation. Then, in minutes, everything changed. The pull to reunite with their families had to be pretty strong. Honestly, what would your response have been? It’s likely at some point the realization of it all hit home and they were thankful. However, there is no record they ever found Jesus to actually give thanks.
It is the Samaritan that turned back to Jesus. On his way back, he glorified God with a loud voice. When he got to Jesus, he prostrated himself and gave thanks for the gift of life he received. As a result of his effort and attitude the Samaritan received an extra blessing; he was made whole.
There is a distinct correlation between giving thanks and being extra blessed. All ten lepers were blessed but only one was extra blessed. Was it worth the extra effort? All ten received healing for their body; the Samaritan received healing for his soul. Not only was he cleansed outwardly but he was cleansed inwardly as well.
There are several benefits to the individual who takes the time to express their thanks, both to God and man. Giving thanks improves ones communication and social skills. People prefer to be around somebody who is appreciative versus somebody who is thoughtless in this regard.
Developing a mindset of actively giving thanks will improve your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. Looking for opportunities to give thanks will force the mind to focus more on the positive aspects of life rather than the negative.
Here is another aspect to consider about the power of giving thanks. Luke records the words of Paul reminding us of the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
There is a blessing in both giving and receiving. In order for someone to give, someone must receive. As much as there is a power and blessing in giving thanks, there is also a power and blessing in receiving thanks. When we exercise the power of giving thanks, we minister to the needs of those who receive the thanks. This is a true win-win situation.
Most people appreciate being appreciated. There is one type of temperament called a Supine. This is somebody with a natural servant mentality. They love to serve. They need to serve. However, if they are not thanked for their service they will come to resent those they are serving. This resentment will turn into smoldering anger. At some point they will become extremely bitter. This not only is destructive to them but others also.
That’s their problem you may say and you would be right. But, it becomes our problem too. The Church needs this person. You need this person. I need this person. As a counselor, I see several of these individuals in a clinical setting and work with them helping them recognize what is happening and how to look to God for their recognition when humans don’t provide it.
The strong leader type may say they need to get over it. Ironically, the strong leader usually has a need to be recognized and thanked in a greater way than the servant/follower. The point is that we need each other and should not take each other for granted regardless of our position in life. By taking the time to say “Thank you” and showing simple appreciation, you reverse the ripple effect in their life and yours.
Consider this—if you are a leader at any level in your local congregation and/or home, would you rather be proactive, looking for ways to show appreciation, thereby lifting the spirits of others, which in turn equates to positive momentum and benefit, or would you prefer being reactive, spending time dealing with the negative fallout that results from a lack of giving thanks?
Before writing this, I put myself on a seven-day test. I wanted to prove the power of giving thanks so I decided to proactively seek ways to give thanks. I will tell you it is harder than you may think. It was a blessing when I succeeded both to myself and to others. You should try this too. Let me be the first to thank you for making the effort.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Note: This article was first published in the November, 2018 issue of “Pentecostal Life.”
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