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The statement, “Thanks, but no thanks,” usually applies to a situation where
somebody is offering you something or making you a deal on something, but you realize
that the ramifications, aftermath and the additional expense of it will be too great to
accept. So you say, “Thanks, but no thanks!” Years ago, I was at a flea market and
there was a fellow selling ducks. Well, actually I am not sure what they were, but they
looked like beautiful white swans. When he saw the interest that I had in the ducks, he
began to bargain and try to get me to buy one or two. My youthful exuberance kicked into
gear and I begin to think about how attractive they would be walking around in our country
yard. Then I realized that we did not have a pond, a lake or anything that would be enjoyed
by a duck. Still, I was interested and the more I rejected the man’s offer, the more he
reduced the price and the more determined he was to see that I left there with a duck or two.
Finally, all I could do was to say, “Thanks, but no thanks!”
Here just days away from Thanksgiving, I am thinking about that experience in Jesus’ life when
He met the 10 lepers. This may be the most preached passage in the Bible at Thanksgiving. Luke
recorded that these 10 men, who had no doubt banded together because they could have nothing to
do with anyone else, were excluded from society because of their disease. They were forced to
yell out a warning to anyone who was getting close to them, “Unclean, unclean!” People would
immediately react and get further away because of their leprosy.
Can you imagine the loneliness that would fill a person’s heart when they can have nothing to
do with anyone around them? Can you imagine the anger that could build up because society treated
them the way that they did? Can you imagine the contempt that they would have for everyone else
because they were excluded and looked down upon? And yet everything was about to change in their
lives because Jesus was going to heal them, cleanse them of their leprosy and they would be set free.
They could re-enter society and be accepted. They would have a normal life again. Oh what a radical
change it would make and what a glorious day it must have been when the Lord set them free.
As required in the Old Testament, they must be checked and declared clean by the high priest.
And so after their healing, they joyfully went charging off to the high priest. Suddenly, they
realized that a miracle really had happened. They were clean, whole and renewed. And while it
happened to all of them, only one returned to Jesus. The other nine moved on toward the priest.
Visibly, if not verbally, they went on their way showing thanks, but no thanks.
Do you think that they were thankful? They had to be. Do you think that they thought about the
man that had given them a new lease on life? I feel certain that they did, but they did not take
the time, show the interest or give the energy to come back and say to the one who had blessed them,
“Thank you!” They may have felt thankful but there was no thanks offered to the one who had given
them the great gift of freedom, life and hope. It was one of those thanks like we have sometimes,
“Thanks, but no thanks!” There is no expression of appreciation for the kindness and care that
someone has shown us.
What happens to our thanks? When we pause for a moment and think of the great things that God has
done for us, we know that we have received immeasurable and innumerable blessings from Him, but with
little frequency do we stop and say, “Lord, we thank you for the blessings.” Why? Well, here are
just a few of my thoughts here at Thanksgiving time.
It may be our dumbness. I know that we are not dumb or stupid people, but sometimes we are just
thoughtlessly dumb for we fail to recognize the very source of our blessed condition. James writes,
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The great prophet Isaiah says
that even the donkey knows his master’s crib, and yet we sometimes just grab and go. We do not
recognize the great source of our health, the blessings of relationships, the great joy of service and
the incredible goodness that comes from our work. The nine lepers knew what had happened and who had
given them healing. We know where our blessings come from too. But we just must plead selective
ignorance about it because we go on without saying, “Dear God, thank you!”
Another suggestion for why we do not give thanks is because we are diverted. We are not just dumb,
we are diverted. I think about those nine lepers and I wonder how long it had been since they had
been with their families, friends or in a social gathering? Maybe as they left Jesus realizing what
had taken place in their lives, all they could think about was the glorious and wonderful things that
were ahead. Their attention was diverted. I know that happens at times because it has happened to me.
There are people, opportunities and situations that have blessed me so, but because of the circumstances,
travel and the rush to be somewhere else my attention was diverted. I missed the blessing of saying thank you.
Another thing that possibly keeps us from delivering the thanks that we may feel is dissipation. We
fully intend to do it. We will write a note, make a call or see someone and say, “You just do not know
how thankful I am for what you did.” But the time passes, life moves on and the thanksgiving that you
intended to give just simply dissipates. From time to time there is a flash of how wonderful the
blessing was but you do not reach back, grab it and follow up on it. The whole experience dissipates.
A final thought about why we do not express thanks and why so many times we experience thanks, but no
thanks is because of our discouragement. A good blessing comes but just down the road and maybe totally
disconnected from that event is a discouraging event that overwhelms us, dominates our life and captures
all of our thought process. As a result, rather than even pausing to say thank you, we fall back into
the pits of discouragement and even complaining. This Thanksgiving, let’s do it!