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Giving Thanks

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 23, 2023 12:01 am

Giving Thanks

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 23, 2023 12:01 am

Every moment of our lives is showered with the kindness of our Creator. How often do we stop to express our thanksgiving to God? Today, R.C. Sproul turns to a passage in Scripture that illustrates the importance of showing gratitude.

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One of the basic, most fundamental, foundational defects in our fallen humanity is our allergy to being grateful to God and to giving thanks. We have so much to be thankful for.

Each of us does, no matter our circumstances. To be alive, breathing, and experiencing God's common grace is a blessing. And if you're a Christian, to know that you have been reconciled to a holy God should be enough for our hearts and our lips to overflow in expressing gratitude to our great and merciful God. Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and you're listening to a special edition of Renewing Your Mind. In the United States, today is Thanksgiving, and so we have gone back into the archives, and you'll hear a special message that R.C. Sproul recorded for Thanksgiving on the topic of thankfulness. But wherever you're listening from today, and we have a significant number of you listening from all over the world, there is a sense in which every day is to be a day of thanksgiving and expressing our gratitude to God. Before we get to this message, to thank those of you that listen often but have never reached out to contact us, we have a free gift for you when you reach out for the first time today.

I'll tell you more about it after the message, but you can request it until midnight at renewingyourmind.org. Well, here's Dr. Sproul with a Thanksgiving message simply titled, Giving Thanks. One of the grand traditions of America is our tradition of taking one day out of the year and setting it apart as a special holiday, a holy day, a day to commemorate the benevolent providence of God. It was called originally Thanksgiving. And the idea of Thanksgiving Day has its roots in our own history in the bitter struggle that the original founding fathers of this country had with the elements. The pilgrims who came to these shores in 1620 had their ranks depleted by almost 50% in the first year of their struggle in the New World.

They lacked the shelter, the food, the supplies that they needed to endure. But instead of being themselves bitter at the severe losses that they experienced as people and as Christians, they were grateful to God for His kindness. One of the basic most fundamental foundational defects in our fallen humanity is our allergy to being grateful to God and to giving thanks. Now there's an episode that takes place in the New Testament that involves Jesus in His healing ministry that I think illustrates this basic corruption of our hearts with respect to gratitude. It's a well-known story as it involves the healing by the hand of Jesus of ten lepers. Let's look at this account that's found in the 17th chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Luke beginning at verse 11.

Here's what Luke tells us. Now it happened as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee, and then as he entered a certain village, there met him ten men who were lepers who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices, and they said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And so when he saw them, he said to them, Go and show yourselves to the priest. And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned and with a loud voice glorified God and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. And so Jesus answered and said, Were there not ten cleansed?

Where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? And he said to him, Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.

One of the questions I often ask people is sometimes a little bit embarrassing for them. I'll ask people, How many of you have read the entire Bible from cover to cover? And if I'm in large groups and I ask that question, it's amazing how few people there are out there in the church who actually have read the entire scope of Scripture. So then I try to make it a little easier for them, and I say, Okay, well, how many of you have read Genesis? Put your hand up, and virtually everybody in the room will raise their hand and will have a sea of hands waving in the crowd. And I'll say, Okay, now please keep your hands up if you've also read Exodus. But if you haven't read Exodus, lower your hand. Not only a sprinkling of hands, but not only a sprinkling of hands will go down. Still, the vast majority will keep their hands up.

And I'll say, Okay, how many of you have read Leviticus? And now all of a sudden a flood of hands go down. And they're like, How about numbers? And a bunch more go down. And I say, Okay, let's stop right there.

What happened? We started with a good intention to read the Bible through, and so we started at the beginning. And we read the book of Genesis, and it was somewhat familiar to us. We've heard a little bit about Abraham, something about Joseph and Jacob. And the book of Genesis is filled with drama, with human passion, with human desire, with human care and concern, and with human crime and corruption.

Reads like a novel. It's no problem getting through Genesis. Then we turn to Exodus. And if we've ever seen the Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments and Charlton Heston and Moses, there's a certain familiarity to this narrative as we go through the dramatic moment in redemptive history of Israel's liberation from slavery in Egypt. So our attention remains riveted and wrapped. And then comes Leviticus and Numbers, and we get this seemingly endless narrative of dietary laws, of meticulous directions for the fashioning of utensils that are to be used in the tabernacle, which liturgy we're completely unfamiliar with.

All of the rules and regulations that govern the priesthood. And there's one section in there, I won't take the time to go over it here, where for page after page it goes on with these detailed descriptions on what to do with a skin rash. If you wake up in the morning and you see a rash on your skin, and it's this particular color, and you go and you bathe, and you wait seven days, and the rash is this, don't worry, it's just poison ivy. But if the rash gets white, then it's this and this and this, then you go to the priest and go through another test, and you finally come to the conclusion that you have leprosy. Well, it is so detailed and so foreign to our experience that most people when they read it quickly lose interest and put the book down. Have you ever been to the doctor and had a biopsy done, where you knew what diagnostic purpose was in view, and then you had to wait for the results from the lab?

You were waiting for a verdict. Is it benign? Is it malignant? Probably the most feared word in America is the word cancer.

It's one of the hardest things for doctors to tell their patients that the results of your test are positive. Well, if you can identify at all with that drama, with that anxiety, in our own day, then perhaps you can understand something of the drama a Jew experienced when he read those pages of sacred scripture, because the morning he woke up with a rash on his skin, he read every word of the biblical text, followed every direction, and visited the priest in living anguish over the possibility not that he would have cancer, but that he would be declared a leper, because if there was any word that the Jewish person in antiquity feared more than any other word, it was the word leprosy, because it not only meant a disease that was often fatal and painful and horribly disfiguring, but it required the ultimate quarantine for the person who contracted that type of leprosy was forced to leave his family, to leave his job, to leave his community, and to live either completely alone, or the only possible company would be the fellowship of other lepers. And the lepers had to keep themselves a prescribed distance removed from healthy people. On many occasions they wore bells like cows that would ring as they walked, signifying warning to anyone who drew near that a leper was in the vicinity. And if they still couldn't be heard, it was required of the leper if a healthy person began to approach them that they would call out, unclean, total outcasts, total pariahs from their community.

And Luke tells us that on one occasion, as he tells us in Luke 17, that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, and he was passing through the midst of Samaria and Galilee, and there as he entered a certain village, afar off was standing a group of lepers. They weren't living in the middle of the village. They were remote. They were isolated. They were quarantined.

They were kept at a distance. And when they saw Jesus coming, Luke tells us they lifted up their voices. They began to scream. They began to shout, they began to shout, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

They were crying at the top of their voices with the smallest ray of hope still in their breast that somebody would bring relief. Somebody would come with a cure, and already the news of Jesus had gone all over the land, and these lepers somehow through the leper network had heard the stories. There's a prophet out there, and he touches people, and the blind receive their sight. The deaf receive their hearing.

The lame are walking. People have actually been raised from the dead. What do you think the scuttlebutt was in every leper colony in Israel? What do you think the scuttlebutt was in every leper colony in Israel? They only had two questions.

Can he heal leprosy, and will he ever come here? And when they saw him coming, the last thing in the world they wanted was for Jesus to pass them by. They didn't care about protocol.

They didn't care about formalities. They just started screaming their heads off, Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us. So when he saw them, he said to them, go show yourselves to the priests. A strange response of Jesus. It almost sounds that he was dismissing them. Hey, don't talk to me.

Talk to the doctor, because it was the priest who would make the prescriptions for their treatment. And it almost sounds as if Jesus said, don't bother me. I've got more important things to do. I'm on my way to Jerusalem. Go talk about your problem with the priests.

But somehow, I don't think that was what was communicated. It was as if Jesus was saying in His tender voice, you want mercy? It's time for a checkup.

Go see. Follow the law, because the only reason they would have to go back to the priest now would be to see if they were clean, because they'd already been pronounced unclean. They already had the fatal diagnosis. Now Jesus said, it's time to go back, get a new checkup. And as they went on their way, they realized, Luke tells us, they were cleansed. Now, I don't know how many times you've heard sermons on this story.

I've heard a lot of them. And there's something that bothers me about the sermons that I hear about this text. I hear over and over again from the pulpit. I hear people preaching on this text, and they say, the problem here is that Jesus healed 10 miserable people. Jesus healed 10 miserable lepers. And out of that 10, only one was grateful.

I think that's crazy. I mean, that's just not possible. Is it possible for a person in the ancient world, for a person to go through the utter torture of leprosy, the agony of separation from family, to have a life sentence of this ravaging disease, and then to have somebody come into their midst, instantly heal them, heal them, and not be grateful?

Come on. Adolf Hitler would have been grateful if somebody healed him of leprosy. Anybody who was ever suffering from cancer, who was instantly healed of that disease, would be grateful. The story here is not about being grateful or not being grateful. Obviously, ladies and gentlemen, they were all grateful. Jesus does not rebuke them for not being grateful. All 10 were grateful. The problem, only one gave thanks.

Only one showed his gratitude. Let's go back now to Luke chapter 17, verse 17. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

Now the key word here in this story is that he returned. Everybody else made a beeline out of there. Can you blame them really? They've been isolated in leper colony. Now suddenly they're clean. They have to go to the priest first.

They can't wait to go to the priest, get their bill of health, and then walk back home and walk in the front door and say, honey, I'm home. I'm whole. I'm clean. Let me pick up the kids and hug them and kiss them. Let them come near to me, which they have not been allowed to do. I mean, wouldn't you just be in a state where you couldn't wait to get home and show your wife, to show your family, to show your friends what had happened?

There's nothing more natural, nothing more normal than that. But one of the tens said, wait a minute. I can't wait to go home, just like everybody else, but I cannot not stop and say thank you. He returned. He went to the priest, got his bill of health, but instead of going home, he went looking for Jesus to show His gratitude, to give His thanks. And Jesus beheld him and said, wait a minute. Weren't there ten that I cleansed?

Only one came back. And that one's a Samaritan who hasn't been instructed in all the laws of God, in the purity of the faith of Israel. This pagan comes back who's more willing to show His gratitude, to give His thanks than the children of Israel. How many times in your life have you been grateful and never expressed it, and never showed it? Do you see the difference between being thankful and giving thanks?

How much does it cost thanks? How much does it cost to give thanks? How much does it cost to show gratitude? I mean, we do this even with God, not only with our friends. We plead with Him in prayer for a particular answer.

He gives it, and we hardly take the time to tip our hats because we're on to the next item on the agenda. But this person showed His gratitude, and Jesus said, go. Your faith and your faithfulness has redeemed you. Let me ask now today that you ask not only, what are you grateful about, but to whom? And to whom do you have the opportunity to give thanks, to say thanks, to demonstrate, to show your gratitude?

The list can be very long indeed, but it is not a difficult task to perform. And my challenge to you today is that you will act, that you will act concretely and specifically to do what the Samaritan did, to go back and say, thank you. Acknowledge the gifts that you have received from God and from people.

That is a challenge that I think we all should accept. And let me begin by thanking you. Thank you for listening and sharing episodes of Renewing Your Mind with your family and friends. You're being used by the Lord to help grow this daily outreach. And for those of you that regularly give, whether large gifts or small, or those that are giving as one of Ligonier's ministry partners, thank you. Renewing Your Mind would not be possible without you. So I thank God for each and every one of you. And lastly, thank you for the way so many of you have encouraged me as I embarked on this journey as host of Renewing Your Mind. Your words of encouragement, whether you've written in or I've seen you in person, have meant so much to me. Thank you all again.

Now, who will you thank today and this week? You're listening to Renewing Your Mind. And if you've never contacted us or Ligonier Ministries before, we have a free gift waiting for you at renewingyourmind.org. It's a USB drive with 50 handpicked messages from RC Sproul. This gift is our way of saying thank you for listening and thank you for contacting us.

This offer is available today only at renewingyourmind.org and while supplies last. When we think of the things that we are thankful for, the atonement of Christ to save his people from our sins quickly comes to mind. And tomorrow, RC Sproul will explain the work of Christ as we hear him read his gripping allegorical tale, The Prince's Poison Cup. You'll want the whole family to listen in for this children's story tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-23 02:29:35 / 2023-11-23 02:37:29 / 8

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