“…Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2Corinthians 5:20
Well, now that we got Halloween out of the way, it’s time to focus on the fall season. The changing colors, the crisp, cool air, pumpkins, scarecrows, and warm apple pie. Yep, we’re now heading full steam ahead to Thanksgiving. A time for family and a time to eat. And it’s a time to stop and say “thank you” to the people around you.
It’s easy to thank our friends and loved ones. They are familiar to us and it’s more comfortable to recognize their kindness. But how about the people you encounter randomly every day?
As a mom, I constantly try to remind my kids to say “thank you” or “please.” It’s just not something that’s hardwired into them- or any of us for that matter. So every day I try to model the behavior and explain to them why it’s important to thank people. Sometimes they remember to say it and sometimes they don’t. But at least they’re being shown the value in it.
Maybe others don’t know or have never been taught the value of good manners. It seems hard for them to simply utter the words “thank you.” Perhaps the people who do nice things for them, whether out of duty or not, aren’t deserving of being thanked. Is that why? I honestly have no idea. But it really breaks my heart when I see people doing good things for others only to get a head nod in response, or maybe not even that. There’s no acknowledgment of kindness anymore and the state of our society today proves it.
Saying Thank You is a Heart Problem
Why can’t some people remember to say “thank you?” I don’t believe it’s a memory problem. We’re all clearly able. I think it’s more of a heart problem. We’re so busy thinking about our to-do lists, our schedule, and all the worries of life that we sometimes fail to see the other person. I don’t want to call it self-centeredness, but maybe it is. And it makes us blind to actions and kindness of others sometimes.
I’m not saying that we need to memorize everything Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, instructed about such things. Although she did wisely say, “It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.” I have no idea if Ms. Martin is a follower of Jesus or not, but her words remind us that we are recognized by our fruits of the spirit- love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
If we are truly pursuing the Lord and trying hard every day to be more like Him, then it makes sense that we should be doing our best to show kindness, love, and goodness to others. To do otherwise would make us look like we don’t have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We would look more like unbelievers. Yet with using simple manners like saying “please” and “thank you,” we publicly reflect the character of God. And this is especially important when someone shows kindness to you first.
And isn’t this what Jesus did, after all? Didn’t He show kindness, love, and goodness to us first when He offered Himself on the cross? He loved us even when we were still in darkness and sinning, and even in all the days since. We don’t deserve His sacrifice for us. Yet He gave Himself up willingly to save us. That, if nothing else ever in the history of the world, deserves a big “thank you.”
Not Even Jesus Always Gets a Thank You
Unfortunately, Jesus isn’t usually properly thanked. Not then and not now. Take for example when Jesus healed the ten lepers. In Luke 17:12-19, Jesus had come to a certain village where He met the leprous men. They asked for mercy, so He told them to show themselves to the local priest and their bodies would be cleansed. As they walked to the church, they were miraculously healed. Only one (who, coincidentally, was Samaritan, an enemy of Israel) came back to Jesus to say “thank you” and glorify the Lord by falling on his face at Jesus’s feet. Jesus replied,
“’Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the other nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’”
Why was there only one who came back? The answer is that one leper was the only one who recognized kindness and was thankful for it.
If Jesus is willing to be so mind-blowingly kind for us, shouldn’t we give thanks? And shouldn’t we pay it forward? Shouldn’t we show that same kindness to others when they do something nice for us? It doesn’t matter if it’s the kid packing your groceries for you, or someone letting you go ahead in traffic, or even when your spouse picks up your favorite flavor of ice cream after a hard day. They all deserve our sincere thanks.
Give Thanks in Everything
The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Did you catch that? In everything. Not just when someone’s done something super amazing for you, but in every little kindness, no matter how small. I believe that when you experience kindness you experience God, which means you can be the one who reaches others for Christ just by saying “thank you.”
This Thanksgiving season, make it a part of your everyday habit to take two seconds to look someone in the eye, smile big, and say “thank you” to whoever has done a nice thing for you. Imagine the love of God they will feel because you did that. Imagine how you can turn their day around. Ultimately, that love spreads to others. It’s grace multiplied.
It only takes a moment. And you just might be the only one that day who took the time to notice them. You might just be the only Jesus they ever meet.
“You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11
It’s not always easy to say thank you to people you don’t know. How did you overcome this fear so you could be a light in someone’s day? Share your thoughts and comments here. We’d love to hear from you.