Sunday Sermon 11.20.21
Giving thanks and being grateful are both positive and helpful attitudes, and both are generally a result of an event, so what’s the difference?
You may be one who uses grateful and thankful interchangeably, but they are not really the same. Here’s the big difference:
“The difference between grateful and thankful is that by definition grateful is directed out of the person who is feeling it, while thankful is generated inside the person.“Smart Leadership Hut
Put another way, we are grateful for external circumstances. (Often by comparison, too.) This means we need something outside ourself to help us generate gratefulness. Gratefulness needs someone or something else to motivate expression.
Thankfulness on the other hand, can be generated on it’s own, from the inside without external triggers. With thankfulness, we can experience happiness because it comes from within, from an attitude that is full of thanks regardless of circumstances, from a heart not dependent on externals.
When we express thankfulness, we can be in any situation in life and realize that it is what is within us that brings our happiness and satisfaction, not what is outside of us. Our happiness and fulfillment is not dependant on our circumstances, people or places. And for this, we are truly thankful.
But should those circumstances, people and places line up favorably, we can certainly be grateful too.
In their absence, we can choose to be thankful.
Let me illustrate this by sharing two stories.
“The Masai tribe of West Africa have an unusual way of saying thank-you. Translators tell us that when the Masai express thanks, they bow, put their foreheads on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.”
When members of another African tribe want to express their thanks, they sit for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and literally say, “I sit on the ground before you.”
These Africans understand well what thanksgiving is and why it’s difficult for us: at its core, thanksgiving is an act of humility.” (Story as told by Joel Gregory, in “Fresh Illustrations for Teaching and Preaching”)
Another story is told in the Gospel of Luke:
” Jesus was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance, and lifted their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When Jesus saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus feet, giving him thanks. ” Luke 17:11-17 ESV
This one leper was not content with just his external circumstances being changed when Jesus healed him. Although that seems to have been the case for the other nine. That one leper, was prompted by not only gratitude, but thankfulness. He turned back toward Jesus, and began shouting out loud his praise and thanks to Jesus. He then fell on his face, right at Jesus’ feet, and like the Masai, pretty much said to Jesus, “My head is in the dirt.” Generated not only by gratitude but by a deep and overwhelming heart of thanks, this leper humbled himself, at Jesus feet and expressed his thanks to Him.
Nine I believe were grateful for their healing. They never returned to Jesus or expressed their thanks, though.
One was both grateful and thankful. He was healed, and commended by Jesus for returning with thanks.
We can be like the nine, be like the one or still be carrying around our leprosy.
I trust you will join with the throng in giving thanks during this season.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!