July 19, 2008

Please and Thank You

Luke 17:11-19

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”
Luke 17:17


The story of Jesus' healing of the ten lepers confirms a point that many of us know from being around young children: saying “thank you” does not come naturally to most of us. Often our practice of this vertical habit requires prompting and encouragement from others. If the statistics in today's Scripture reading are any indication, all of us are well rehearsed in the habit of asking God for help, but only 10 percent of us thank him for it. Some people have wondered why God expects to be thanked and praised so much. When we see that some people have the need to be constantly complimented, isn't that the very thing that makes them unlikable? C. S. Lewis struggled with this very point as a young Christian. The idea that God demanded to be praised all the time seemed to make Lewis all the more resistant to doing it. Then Lewis began to think through this a bit more. As he reflected on the nature of praise, he noticed that it involves much more than paying someone a compliment. He discovered that praise is connected to whatever it is we enjoy. It's not something added on to a happy experience; it's a vital part of the happiness itself. This is why thankful people are also joyful. Saying “thank you” to God gives us as much pleasure as it gives him.

Dear Lord, we are often quick to ask for your help but not always so eager to thank you for it. Help us to be aware of all your gifts and to be grateful for each one. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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