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Being Thoughtful Enough To Be Thankful!!! 


Dr. Billy Graham once said that of all the men of God that he had ever met there was one that influenced him more for Christ than any other, and that was Dr. Steven Olford, and I came to know why Dr. Graham felt that way. Although I have never met Dr. Olford personally, I had him as a professor for two of my classes when I was doing my doctoral program at Trinity Theological Seminary. I will be forever grateful to the Lord for that experience and for what I learned from him. Dr. Olford was a preacher’s preacher! If you would ask anyone who ever knew him, and heard him, they would tell you the same! And one message that he shared with us in Luke 17:11-19 about the 10 lepers that Jesus healed was one of the best sermons that I have ever heard in my life and still impacts me to this very day. Out of the 10 that were healed, only one was thoughtful enough to be thankful! I’ve never gotten over that, and I promised myself that I never want to be like the other nine! Miraculously, they were all healed of this dreaded disease, their lives were transformed by His healing grace and they would never be the same again! They were probably overjoyed, and rightfully so, and they probably ran home to see their parents, brothers and sisters, wives and children whom they haven’t been able to visit or touch in years. But again, only one had the presence of mind to return to Jesus and was thoughtful enough to be thankful! What was the difference? The nine only cared about the healing, not the Healer. Once their illness was cured, they had what they wanted. There was happiness and relief I’m sure at finally being free of their affliction. But, there was no gratitude, no thankfulness, no appreciation. They just took the blessing and ran. 

Since this is our Fall 2017 edition of Heir-Lines, one of my favorite holidays is right around the corner, Thanksgiving! And this is on my heart and mind as I write these words. Folks listen, we should have a spirit of thanksgiving every day, not just the 4th Thursday in November! In fact, a thankful spirit is one of the key distinguishing marks of a Christian. It sets us apart from the world. It makes us different. In today’s America, we live in an entitlement culture. We have so much wealth as a society that we tend to take for granted things like food, clothing, and shelter. Many people today consider a color TV and a DVR to be necessities rather than luxuries. What we consider to be “poverty” today is far above the quality of life that most people enjoyed a hundred years ago! Millions today take prosperity for granted. It seems that the more that we have, the less we seem to appreciate it. And the danger in that is for those who seek to follow Christ is that it will dull our sense of gratitude and thankfulness toward God. Well, let me say at this point that does not apply to my wife Marti and me. The Lord knows that there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t thank Him over and over again for His many, many blessings to us; our country, our church, our freedom, our faith, our family, our home, our ministry, our health, our vehicles, our food, and all the many provisions that He provides for us…daily. But, most of all, that we have a personal relationship with Him and that He is our Savior and Lord, and that we have the promise of eternal life, and it’s all because of He died on the Cross 2000 years ago to forgive us and cleanse us from sin. PTL! 

With all this said about being thankful, I need to add something at this point that really, really bothers me and has for a long, long time. I don’t understand people who don’t say “thank you”. Maybe it’s because no one ever taught them how; maybe they have forgotten the importance of doing so; maybe they are just too busy with other things, maybe it’s because they have a sense of entitlement, or for some other inappropriate excuse.

Now, if they are not a Christian, that would explain a lot as they do not have the mind/mannerisms of Christ.

However, I’ve known “folks in the faith” who act like the “other nine” and I guess that’s what I don’t understand. God uses someone to be kind to them, to help them, to be a blessing to them somehow, and there’s no response of a simple “Thank You” by sending that person a simple thank you note, a card, an email, a text, a phone call? Lord knows I’m telling the truth here, I cannot count the times over these many, many years that Marti and I have sent a nice gift for a wedding, a birthday, an anniversary, Christmas, or some other special day and never receive a simple “Thank You.” Well, someone might say, as a Christian we are to give and not worry or expect any kind of response as we embrace and practice God’s Agape’ love (i.e.) to give and not expect anything in return. Well, I’m very aware of this and our Lord knows it’s true that I do my very best to live it out. However, the Bible also teaches us to have and demonstrate a spirit of praise and thanksgiving and I honestly don’t think that when you are trying to help someone out and be a blessing to them that a simple “Thank You” is unreasonable, do you? I, truly, believe that our Lord wants us to have, embrace, and demonstrate “ an attitude of gratitude” in both our relationship to Him and to each other. As my dear friend Kent Davis said to me recently as we were discussing this issue,

“ Haines, saying thank you, it’s just not that hard to do!” Well, he’s right folks! If we are truly grateful, then we will be thankful. That’s the key. God help us all to be thoughtful enough to be thankful! Amen? Amen! 

I love you all very, very much! 

P.S. To all our many friends and ministry partners,  “Thank you!” 

Gary

Matt.6:33