Thanksgiving is a national holiday in which we pause our lives to express for what we are thankful. Many of us celebrate family, friends, health, financial security, and many more things with which God has blessed us. Biblically there is no precedent for this kind of annual holiday, but there is reference that we should be thankful for God’s blessings all the time. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). In the Bible there are two accounts in close proximity to each other which reference the idea of giving of thanks with two completely different results. Let’s examine them briefly.
Luke 18:9-14 records for us the comparison of a Pharisee and a tax collector who went up to the temple to pray. The tax collector was humbled before God and begged for mercy which the Pharisee “gave thanks” to God. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11-12). The conclusion to this parable from Jesus was that the Pharisee was not justified in his prayer, but the publican was. This clearly shows us that if we offer up thanks to God, but do it in a prideful way we will not be accepted. We need to be mindful of our hearts then when we offer up thanks.
Luke 17:11-19 records for us the miracle that Jesus performed of healing ten lepers. When Jesus did this, they were to report to the priests to be officially “cleared” of their leper status. After this was done one of them returned to Jesus “…with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks…” (Luke 17:15-16). This is significant because he took time out of his excitement to render thanksgiving to God. Jesus’ response is very telling, “…were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17). Jesus was mindful of the others who did not return to give thanks where it was due. We need to also be mindful to render thanks to God when He has blessed us.
In these two passages we see someone who gave thanks but did so with a wrong spirit, as well as nine people who should have given thanks but failed. God cares about us enough to bless us so greatly; we should therefore render our true heart of thanksgiving unto Him. May God be patient with us for our failures and allow us the chance to express our hearts to Him.