Andrew Carnegie was considered to be the richest man in America during his lifetime. Having made his wealth in the steel industry, he advocated for philanthropy and practiced what he preached by reportedly giving away over $350 million to public charities. I recently read that he also left $1 million to one of his relatives, who was consequently displeased with the amount when compared to the large sums given to other causes. He should have been grateful that he got anything at all.
Samuel Liebowitz was a criminal lawyer and judge who reportedly saved 78 men from the electric chair. It is said that none of them ever thanked him.
In the Gospels, it is recorded that Jesus was approached by 10 lepers who begged him to heal them. He instructed them to go and show themselves to the priest. On the way, they were all healed but only one returned to thank the Lord. Jesus publicly inquired about the other nine, noting that only one had returned to voice his appreciation.
The expression of gratitude is a characteristic of civilized society. We were taught as children to say “thank you” when given gifts, on receiving a compliment or when we were the objects of the kindness of strangers. Good manners dictate that we acknowledge the graciousness of our fellowman. Only animals and barbarians are so callous in their disregard of others, and so consumed with themselves, that they display no sense of indebtedness for acts of good will.
Bible teacher H.A. Ironside was said to be dining in a crowded restaurant when he was approached by a gentleman who asked to share the table with him. He consented and then bowed his head to give thanks for his meal, as was his custom. The surprised gentleman inquired if Dr. Ironside was ill or displeased with his food.
Upon learning that Dr. Ironside was engaging in a habit of thanking God for his meal, the gentleman scoffed, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in.”
Dr. Ironside replied, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does, too!”
As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving Day, we ought to be grateful for the many blessings and good things that we are able to enjoy. Even in the seemingly difficult circumstances of life, and with all of the chaos that exists on a national and worldwide level, we can still find a reason to be grateful. Life may not be all that we would desire for it to be, but consider that things could be a lot worse than they are right now. Somewhere on this planet there is someone who would gladly trade places with you.
Do you have people in your life who genuinely love you? Do you have a comfortable bed to sleep in at night? Are you able to eat when you feel hungry? Do all five of your senses still work? Do you know your name and where you live? Are you in possession of any good memories? If you can answer “yes” to at least one of these questions you have a reason to be grateful. Even the simple things, that we often take for granted, should be appreciated. God has blessed us in many ways and He rightly deserves our thanks.
Several Psalms encourage gratitude to God for what He has done by making the same exhortation, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalms 106:1, 107:1, and 136). May this directive to an ancient people in their day inspire our attitude and behavior in our day. God has shown us great mercy, goodness and grace. Let’s be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!
Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.