In reading the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19, I have often been puzzled by the lack of gratitude. Have you ever wondered why the others didn’t turn go back and express thanks? Ten men with the ghastly disease were healed by Jesus. Yet, only “one returned to give praise to God” (vs 18).
Why? Did it take too long to say those two little words – thank you? Did the nine men lack faith in the source of their miraculous healing? Or, did their parents just not teach them manners? The Bible doesn’t tell us why but Jesus acknowledged the one man who did return and said, “Your faith has made you well.”
But in reading this story, I believe that Jesus is telling us that the one leper gave more than a one-time thank you. This man had a grateful heart that drove his faith.
Debbie Przybylski, founder and director of Intercessors Arise International, says, “[God] is looking for Christians who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate that person.”
During November, there are Facebook, blog, and Pinterest ideas galore to help us spend 30 days in thanks. But is spending 8.2% of our year building an attitude of gratitude? Of course not. Living “in a realm of praise and thanksgiving” requires daily practice.
With this thought in mind, I began brainstorming ideas that our family could do throughout the year to take the attention off ourselves and instead focus on all that God has given us. While no one could do all of these ideas, I encourage you to pick one or two to implement now and watch your the attitude of your entire family evolve as you focus on having a heart of gratitude everyday.
1. Write Thank You Cards
You are never too young (or old) to send a thank you card. Even before our children could write their names, they assisted by coloring pictures, adding a handprint, or creating a ‘thank you’ video to be shared with those who blessed them with gifts.
2. Sharing Thanks at Supper
Why wait until the Thanksgiving meal to share something you’re grateful for? Make this a weekly tradition, allowing each family member a turn to share something for which they can thank God.
3. Monthly Thanks
Once a month, choose someone to give cookies, bread, or a card letting them know how much you appreciate all that they do. Some recipients could be your pastor, fire fighters, a teacher, or a club or sports leader.
4. Family Gratitude Book or Poster
Make a family goal for 2016 to create a list of 365 things to be thankful for. Keep the list in a book or on a poster. On a personal level, add a “blessings” section to your prayer journal and add to it daily.
Getting out of our circle can be one of the best ways to see how largely we are blessed. Our children’s 4-H club provides them with ample opportunities to serve veterans, foster families, and the community.
6. Pay it Forward
When at Starbucks, a gas station, or Chick-fil-a, pay for the vehicle behind you. Leave a note sharing that God loves them and you want to make a difference in their day.
7. Rid Your Life of Excess
Excess can squelch a thankful heart. Simplify your clothing and toy closets. Donate those unused items to families in your church or neighborhood.
8. Pray for the Jones, Don’t Try to Keep Up with Them
Comparison and thankfulness cannot dwell in the same heart. Turn off the luring T.V. commercials. Unsubscribe to magazines that breed discontentment. Stop the entitlement attitude of your children. Remove yourself from the race to have the best. Instead be thankful for all that you have. (A detailed budget and money management system for your children is a great way to kickstart this change.)
9. Find the Positive
Help your children find the positive in all situations: in not getting picked for the team, in interrupted expectations, in friendships.
10. Set an Example of Thankfulness
Out loud, praise God for blessings you receive throughout the day. Make “Thank You, Jesus” a common phrase cheered in your home.
I wonder if I or one of my children were one of the ten lepers healed, would we have returned to give thanks to Jesus? While I hope that we would have, we don’t have to wonder because Jesus gives us opportunities every single day to live with a grateful heart. We can simply rewire our hearts and minds to respond with gratitude. And in living in this new realm of praise and thanksgiving, we will defeat the enemy’s ability to hold or manipulate our family. To that I say, “Thank You, Jesus.”
Heidi Franz is stay-at-home, Jesus-seekin’ momma of four, striving to develop a grateful heart in her family. She is the creator of the popular online Preschool Bible Curriculum website ABC Jesus Loves Me and blogs at Our Out-of-Sync Life.