Tuesday, November 2, 2021

          We would all say that nine is greater than one.  Sounds like simple math, right?  Nine cones of ice cream are better than one.  Nine dollars is more than a single dollar.  Nine Big Macs will go further than only one.  Nine wins might help the Panthers make the playoffs but one win will leave them on the outside looking in.  However, there is at least one instance where one was greater than nine.  And one was better than nine.  I call your attention to a story we often read in November.  The story comes from Luke’s gospel and specifically 17:11-19.  We read the story of Jesus traveling to Jerusalem for the last time. He is making his way along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going, he was met by ten men suffering from the disease of leprosy.  This disease was a horrible affliction that caused much pain, disfigurement and even death.  Make no mistake, these ten men were in trouble and desperately so.  They cried out Jesus to have pity on them.  Or to put it another way, they were asking for help and healing. 
            And Jesus healed them...all ten.  They were made well and told to show them-selves to the priests so they could be readmitted to the community and normal life.  One of the lepers came back to thank Jesus.  The other nine went their own ways.  The remaining nine, based on what we know in Luke’s gospel, never returned to thank Jesus.  On this occasion, one was greater than nine.  Jesus called out the other nine with three pointed questions.  “Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18).  The one man who returned also received the added blessing of having his sins forgiven by Jesus (verse 19).  One was greater than nine.  And on this occasion, it would have been better to be the one man instead of the other nine men.
            What does it take to be the nine?  Nothing.  Literally, nothing.  You do not have to do anything.  Just walk away, go away and do your own thing.  To be indifferent or ungrateful requires nothing of us.  Nothing.  Put in the earbuds, pull out your phone and just withdraw.  But to be the one who is grateful takes effort, intention, willingness and action.  We are a little more than three weeks away from Thanksgiving.  We have this time where we can be thankful to God for all that He has given us.  He has blessed us beyond measure and beyond anything we could rightfully expect.  God is good all the time.  And all the time, God is good.  The only real question is whether we choose to be like the one or like the other nine.  Nobody can make that decision for you.  Only you can do this.  The Bible’s message is clear...be one and not nine. 
            There is a lot of craziness in our world this day.  But this Thanksgiving can be a truly special time if you choose to be one person who will make it so.  Give thanks to God every day for what you have and the blessings you enjoy.  “Count your many blessings,” we often sing.  Well, do it.  Start counting now.  See if you can reach at least five hundred before Thanksgiving Day arrives.  Reach out to people who have blessed you, supported you or encouraged you.  Thank them for the ways they have made an impression upon your life.
            The Bible says that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Remember this truth.  And take action on it.  You may be the only person in your circle of influence who chooses to live gratefully.  But that’s okay.  Remember one is greater than nine (or any other number) in this situation.  Grumble less.  Complain less.  Let go of hard feelings, grudges and resentment that serve no real purpose except to keep bitterness and anger going.  Thankful people do not have time to wallow in the mud of bitterness, pettiness and anger.  Thankful people would rather enjoy the bacon than roll in the mud with the pigs.  Comparisons with other people and their blessings serve no real purposes either.  God blesses us because He knows exactly what we need and when we need it.  Be the one today, tomorrow and always!  Have a great Tuesday!

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