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Thanksgiving: The Key to Wholeness

overeating.jpg So there you are, scarfing down turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, waddling back into the kitchen for seconds, deciding whether or not there’s room for a slice of ham plus a piece of Aunt Mabel’s carrot cake. You told yourself not to do it, that things were going to be different this year, but another Thanksgiving comes and goes with pigs eating turkeys and overstuffed uncles stuffed into overstuffed chairs wheezing at each other. But beneath all those layers of food and fat, an authentic idea of thanksgiving really exists. It elevates Thanksgiving from a holiday to a profound spiritual truth.

We generally believe that thanksgiving is just a courteous thing to do. It is more of a good public relations issue rather than an absolute requirement. When people don’t express gratitude, we think they are only being uncouth or thoughtless. A far different profile emerges, however, from scripture. Thanksgiving actually turns out to be a fundamental spiritual principle. True thanksgiving opens the door to deep spiritual healing and experience.

This powerful fact is incorporated into the incident of the lepers whom Jesus healed in Luke 17:12-19. Only one man out of the ten returned to Jesus to thank him. When this man fell down on his face to give thanks, Jesus asked about the others. Ten were healed but only one returned to give thanks. This man, because of his gratitude, received more than healing. Three words describe what happened to him. He was cleansed (purified), healed (cured) and made whole (saved, preserved). All ten were cleansed and healed, but only the one who gave thanks was made whole. That’s the difference.

Many Bible characters were blessed, healed and touched, but not made whole. In this incident, there were ten lepers who prayed the prayer of desperation. “And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” In order to answer their prayer, Jesus sent them to the high priest. “And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet , giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.”

This odd development raised a question in the mind of Jesus. “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God , save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

The leper who came back to give thanks broke into a new spiritual dimension. His conscientious act of thanksgiving communicated several key truths to Jesus. He confessed that Jesus changed his life for the better. He understood that he could not have had this healing without Jesus. He realized that he was forever indebted to Jesus. He knew that Jesus did not just restore his health for his purposes, but for God’s own purposes. Clearly, the simple act of sincere thanksgiving triggered a divine response from God. The nine who did not return to give thanks grabbed whatever blessings and advantages they could get from Jesus and ran. They wanted to be healed to get on with their lives, to pursue their own interests. They either had no concept of God’s purpose or they were totally self-indulgent. Whatever they received, they felt like it was a deserved benefit.

It is possible to have enough faith in God to receive miracles and blessings from him. This does not necessarily lead on to true discipleship. It is possible to be healed without being made whole. Wholeness requires an attitude of thanksgiving towards God. Wholeness releases pain; it neutralizes long-standing dysfunctional effects; it makes people comfortable with who they are and what they have.

The most important truth to embrace about thanksgiving is that your relationship with God supersedes your relationship with yourself, your family, your friends, your acquaintances, your past, or any other person, even or thing that can be named. In fact, it would be better to be spiritually whole and remain a leper than to be healed and remain an incomplete person. Paul discovered this truth with his thorn in the flesh. “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

For gluttons, Thanksgiving is a food binge. For sports fanatics, Turkey Day is for football. For retailers, the holiday is the day before the biggest shopping day of the year. For workers and students, the day off is a day off. For true disciples, Thanksgiving represents a perpetual attitude of humility and gratitude for God’s providence. The attitude is where you find healing and wholeness.

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Reader Comments (1)

Great post and blog.

Hey my blogger friend, if it's not too much trouble can I ask you something?

I'm frustrated with my blog. As a pastor of a large church, I have close to 1,000 readers a day on my blog, but still have a very low authority on Technorati. I want people to see this beyond North Carolina, but I guess I don't know how to get people to link and that seems to be the issue. I mean, I’ve learned that this is because I don’t have enough links to my blog site.

Why does this matter? Because I want to start reaching out to people beyond just the church, and to do that I need to get this blog up higher on the search engines.

I was wondering if you would be willing to put in a link exchange with me at If so, please send me an email to showing me where you’ve linked it and I will do the same. I know you will want to make sure we are on the up and up, so please check out our church, and my blog to see if you would be comfortable with doing this. I've seen enough and know that I am.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Pastor Rob Singleton

November 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPastor Rob Singleton

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