Does Gratitude Really Matter?

Today's devotion comes to us from Dustin L. Cooper. This was included in the devotional guide, "A Generous Life," which we read as a congregation a few years ago.


Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18)

Too many bad breaks had happened for Joe: a job lost, a marriage ended, and mounting medical bills and car repairs had taken his last dollar. Finally, however, came a good break in the form of a job opportunity that offered a new beginning. But there was no money for gas to get him back and forth to work while he waited for the first paycheck. Reluctantly, Joe asked his pastor as they stood in the church’s entryway, “Can you help?” After hearing the young man’s story, the pastor agreed to meet at a local gas station where she paid for a tank of gas. His departing words were “When I get my first paycheck, I will be back to repay you.” Would it matter whether he did? The gas was a gift, offered without strings.

As Luke describes in chapter 17, there were ten people stricken with a disease that had segregated them from family and community. As they cried out to Jesus for mercy, they wondered, “Could he help?” Jesus instructed them to go to the High Priest who had authority to decide if they were healthy enough to return to home and society. As they made their way there, each one was healed. Life was changed! One (and only one), however, returned to offer gratitude. One came back. For whatever reasons, nine did not.

Did it matter? After all, Jesus did not set forth any expectations. The healing was a gift of grace. Grace doesn’t set rules for how the receiver is to respond to the gift.

Yet one senses there is a bigger question: did it matter to the one who came back? How did expressing gratitude offer perhaps a greater healing beyond the physical? Gratitude has great power in life. It moves us to complaining less and celebrating more. It enables us to see more clearly the good in all that is around us. With grateful hearts we focus less on the scarcity of what we do not have and more on the abundance of what we do. Saying thank you can transform an attitude of entitlement into a heart of feeling blessed. Offering thanks does matter ... to the one who says it.

- Dustin L. Cooper

How many times did you say thank you yesterday? In the past week? What happens in your heart when you express gratitude?

Make a point this week to say thank you, really focusing on the person as you express your gratitude. Pick someone who deserves your thanks and write or call them.

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