Not Before, Not After: A Thanksgiving Sermon
Introduction: A mother was reading from a book of Bible stories to her little daughter Lucy when she came to a page showing Christians being fed to the lions. The little girl began to whimper. Mom said ''It's all right honey, I'm sure they're all going to heaven.'' The little girl answered ''But Mommy, that little lion in the corner doesn't HAVE a Christian!'' I think it's safe to say that Lucy missed the point.
I don't want any of us to miss the point this morning so I'll spell it out right up front; ''Not before Not After''. If we're not thankful before good things happen in our lives, chances are that we won't be thankful AFTER good things happen in our lives.
The lepers in this account illustrate how thankfulness is an attitude, a choice, a deliberate decision to focus on the positive, not the result of good circumstances. Our tendency is to think the opposite. We tend to believe that when people experience bad circumstances in their lives, they're not grateful because, after all, they have nothing to be grateful for. When people experience good circumstances in their lives, they feel good, happy and appropriately grateful because now they have something to be grateful for. According to that formulae, when we look at what happened to the ten lepers we would expect to find the following progression: Ten men have leprosy - ten men ungrateful. Ten men healed of leprosy - ten men grateful. But that's not what we find is it? We find ten men healed of leprosy - and one of them is grateful while nine of them are still ungrateful. And though it may not be what we originally expected, the longer we thing about it, the more it rings true. Why? Because it is true that thankfulness is an attitude, a choice, a deliberate decision to focus on the positive. Thankfulness is not the result of good circumstances. Since nine of those men did not practice thankfulness before they were healed, th ...
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