What kind of heart do you have?
We often describe a person’s character, strengths, and faults with an adjective attached to the word “heart”. A person is described as being: warm hearted, cold hearted, lion hearted, big hearted, or even “heartless”.
In the last couple of centuries, The poets and songwriters have used a phrase to describe the excitement
when seeing the object of one’s romantic affections: “Be still my beating heart”. In truth, our heartbeat is often noticeable during times of fear, great surprise, and hard labor. The strong and accelerated beat of the heart is the same in each case, but the cause is different. Yet, in every case, the beating heart represents a response to the events of life.
How would someone describe your heart today? The holiday season reminds me that my heart should not only be big and warm, but also thankful. I like to think that when our hearts beat with thankfulness, we will also have a heart that is warm, generous, and caring .
In Luke 17, Jesus tells the story of one man whose heart beat with thanksgiving…
Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 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 said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! So when He saw them, He said to them, Go, show yourselves to the priests. 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. So Jesus answered and said, Were there not ten cleansed? But 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.
~ Luke 17:11-19 NKJV
The thankful heart beats for those who are without.
The first lesson is found in the Savior’s heart for mankind. The scriptures tell us of a Savior whose divine heart beats with thanksgiving.
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.
~ Luke 10:21 NKJV
And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
~ John 6:11 NKJV
Jesus, the Son of God, was always a thankful Son. I go back to Luke 17, verse 11 and I find a Savior who will go where there is great need. Jesus is at a place where most of Jews would not be found…among the Samaritans…and lepers. The Samaritans were considered unholy people and the lepers where unclean. Yet it is a place where needs are great, where hope is needed, and where thanksgiving can abound.
We see hurting people all around us and yet we are paralyzed to help because our hearts are telling us:
- “Why bother…nobody will change”.
- “It’s too risky…you might fail or get hurt.”
- “Someone else can a better effort at helping than I can.”
The thankful heart beats with a gratefulness for what God has done for them and realizes no one is beyond the boundaries of God’s love and power.
The thankful heart beats with a faith that things can change.
I have always wondered what it was that drove 10 lepers to line up on the other side of the street and shout at Jesus to have mercy on them. Had they heard stories of other miracles? Had they spoken with a former member of their leper colony who had been made whole? Whatever it was, I then wondered if they got the response they hoped had hoped for? Jesus did not heal them, touch them, or pray over them. He simply told them to “go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as the story unfolds, “as they went, they were cleansed.”
The men were told to go to the priest as if they had been healed. It would have to be an act of faith…first! They looked at their skin and their limbs and they still were covered with sores, and huge calluses and abnormalities. They had to have faith that things would be different as they made their way to the priests. They had to have faith that things could be different.
In Philippians 4, Paul is in prison and tells us the secret to rejoicing in difficult times:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV
It is with a heart of thanksgiving that we are to pray and let God know our needs. When I pray, God can do two things:
- Change my circumstance
- Give me His peace in my circumstance
The thankful heart beats for the Giver…not just the gift.
Ten lepers made the journey. Ten would see the transformation and power of God in their life. One would return and give thanks. What happened to the other nine?
We really don’t know. Maybe they were following the letter of the law and presenting themselves to the priest for a “certification” of their healing. Maybe they were in a hurry to see family from whom they had been exiled.
I don’t know what was happening in the minds of the nine, but for one man, his thoughts were on the Giver of the gift… not the gift itself. He had to get back to Jesus and give thanks! For this man, the healing was a “God-thing” and he had to glorify the Giver!
I believe this is always true about the beat of a thankful heart for two reasons:
- Every gift has a Giver and our hearts, although thankful for the gift, can never lose sight of the Giver. For the Christians, James 1: 17 reminds us that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…”
- It is often said, “It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts”. This is true because, no matter the value of the gift, the value of knowing that someone thought of you is much greater. Their thoughtfulness builds value into you!!
How valuable we must be for God to bestow His goodness toward us!
The thankful heart beats with thanksgiving and more is given.
The Bible is clear that all ten lepers were healed. All were recipients of God’s unmerited favor. Yet, the Samaritan, the one man who knew less about God’s grace than the others, came back to worship and praise God for his healing.
Did the nine miss out on a more important blessing? Their physical need had been met, but what about their eternal souls? Was their ingratitude a display of unbelief and a refusal to honor God?
I do know this: the heart that knows that it has been the recipient of God’s grace beats with thanksgiving toward God. Only one man worshipped and praised God for the physical change in his life and Jesus took note and He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
I believe that his “wellness” or “salvation” goes beyond the cleansing of his leprosy to the cleansing of his sin. The heart that beats with thanksgiving will always find more in life to express his or her thanksgiving toward God.
Jesus asked three vital questions that day that speak into our lives today…
- Were there not ten cleansed? How many times has God provided for you? Cared for you? Protected you? Are you not one of those whom God has loved?
- Where are the nine? Have we been faithful to give God His glory and credit? Have we acknowledge Him as the Giver? Have we praised Him for His goodness?
- Who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? We were once all lost, estranged from God like foreigners! But because of Jesus, we can be saved, forgiven, and reconciled to God.
Does our life reflect the glory due to God for His gift of forgiveness and new life? Does our heart beat with thanksgiving for the One who has changed our life forever?