I am thinking of an observation Jesus made in the Temple when He saw a Pharisee and a publican (tax gatherer) at the altar. We are used to Jesus’ condemnation on the Pharisee for the attitude he showed in the words,
(Luke 18:11 KJV) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.The tax collector had a different attitude,
(Luke 18:13 KJV) And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.Jesus condemned the Pharisee and exalted the tax collector.
Again I say, this might be a good day to model the Pharisee. You see, he got one thing right: He was being thankful.
The problem with the Pharisee was that he was being thankful with an Attitude. If we can put aside the smugness and arrogance it might give us an insight.
What are you thankful for today? Look around you at others and get a clue. The Pharisee was simply satisfied that he was such a fine fellow and gave himself the door prize. If he had looked at the blessings in his life as gifts from God and a reason to give to others I think maybe Jesus would have had a different response to his thankfulness.
Can you be thankful for what he gave thanks for? Have you been able to avoid cheating anyone? Have you been fair? Have you been faithful to your wife? Have you been that way even though you live in a culture that praises such behavior? Then maybe you have something to be thankful for.
Can you say, “Lord I thank you that I am not like other men.” I would hope so. I would not want you to be violent, selfish and narcissistic.
The key is in the target of your thanks. The Pharisee, though he should have known better, was thanking God that he was such a fine fellow. We should be recognizing our blessings as gifts from God and thanking Him for being such a Fine Fellow. I have my bills up to date and food on the shelf. Is that because I am such a financial wizard or am I grateful to God for providing the job and divine dollar stretchers needed to be in that category? You can look at any area of life from health to auto repair. How much is because you are better than the other guy and how much is because there have been a multitude of unseen miracles to make it happen?
I am thankful that I am not as other men, not because I am such a hard worker and clever duck but because God’s hand of blessing has been on me. I am thankful.
Another important key is in response to our thanks. What are we going to do about it? It is interesting that the season that emphasizes giving comes right after the season that emphasizes thanks.
So rejoice and be a sanctified Pharisee. Thank God for all that is good in your day and then look for a way to begin sharing the blessing.
Happy Thanksgiving, and after dinner is over, Merry Christmas.
homo unius libri