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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Are You Healthy Inside?

Milton Berle said, "Our last turkey was so tough, when we closed the oven door, it blew out the pilot light!" Berle also said, "The first turkeys weren't wild. They just went crazy when they found out what the Pilgrims planned to do with them." It may be tough for turkeys to be grateful on Thanksgiving Day, but it should not be difficult for us on that day or any other day. Scripture is saturated with teaching about thanksgiving. The words thank, thanks, thankful, and thanksgiving occur at least 134 times in the Holy Bible (New King James Version). It is impossible to read the Bible and conclude thanksgiving is unimportant to God. From the poetic words of Psalm 100:4 ("Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name") to the direct words of Colossians 3:15 be thankful") the Bible calls us to be thankful people.

So comes the question, "Why?" Why does God ask us to bring Him our praise and thanksgiving scores of times? Does He have unmet ego needs unless we regularly remind Him of how wonderful and great He is? Does He need us to thank Him? The answer to that is a clear and emphatic no. The apostle Paul reminds us that God "does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things" (Acts 17:24, 25a). Our praise and thanksgiving pleases God, but it does not help Him — it helps us! As someone observed, good art isn't poorer for our failure to recognize and appreciate it --- but we are. The same is true with us and our attitude toward God. We need a grateful spirit to be whole people. Cranky, unhappy people don't praise much of anything or anybody. It may be tough for some people to say "thank you," but not for those who are socially, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually healthy! C. S. Lewis expressed a striking thought with these words: "Praise almost seems to be inner health made audible." A fascinating idea. Remember the incident of the ten lepers who encountered Jesus and were healed in Luke 17:11-19? Jesus was clearly agitated and disappointed when only one returned to give thanks. He asked in verses 17-18, *Were not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?" Desmond Tutu wrote the following thought–provoking words concerning this incident. "Only one, a despised Samaritan, returned to express his gratitude. Our Lord, surprised that only one had done so, then told this Samaritan to rise and go, for his faith had made him whole. It seems odd that Jesus should appear to repeat this cure, since the story had already recorded the healing of all ten. I have thought that perhaps this Gospel story points to a deeper leprosy in the spirit, the leprosy of ingratitude. To be unthankful, to be unappreciative, is in fact to be diseased. To cleanse our spirits of depression, of self-pity and other forms of spiritual leprosy, we have to be thankful, appreciative persons" (An African Prayer Book; New York: Doubleday, 1995; p 53). Are you healthy inside? If so, make it audible! "We give thanks to You, 0 God. We Give thanks" (Psalm 75:1).

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ