Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

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The Secret of a Loving Heart – Gratitude.
Luke 7:36-47
1/ Humiliation is something we all seek to avoid!
I guess most of us have been extremely embarrassed at some time in our life.
I know that on a number of occasions I haven’t coped to well with being humiliated.
And some of the hardest situations to face have been in church.
Sometimes I have lashed out.
Other times I have gone away and sulked.
The truth of the matter is I don’t like being made a fool of.
Place yourself in the situation where you have been invited to dine at an exclusive restaurant and when you arrive the high profile community leader doesn’t even greet you.
You are in fact the guest of honour and the usual welcome and offer of a drink and a place to sit is not even given.
You are being ignored by your host!
In front of everyone, all the other guests see that it is obvious.
They all know that the host has gone out of their way to invite you and now it is as if they wished you weren’t there.
How would you feel?
I think many of us would like to leave.
Have you ever been to someone’s place and really felt the “vibe” that you shouldn’t be there.
Now if you had come round to my place when the Bathurst 1000 race is on you may feel that I am not all that interested.
I guess one day I will set up a video projector and a big screen and eskies full of drinks and nice arm chairs and no kids so the rev head blokes and bev chicks can sit and watch Bathurst, but until then I like to sit in peace and quiet and enjoy the race.
Now imagine that on top of being ignored by your host you are confronted by a highly undesirable person, who is acting in a way that is totally off the wall.
It might be a vagrant, someone under the influence of drugs, a drunk.
Someone smelly, unpleasant and offensive.
But they don’t just come up to you and ask for money and then leave.
They sit down next to you and start to take food off your plate.
And they are feeling a little lonely so they grab your hand and hold on.
And lean up against you!
Now I ask you to imagine this because I once knew a person, who was smelly and unpleasant to be around.
His name was Fred and this was in Newcastle.
Now I could cope with talking and ministering to the drug addicts, the prostitutes the drunks.
In fact that really didn’t bother me too much.
But Fred was a different matter.
Fred was different.
He was a committed faithful Christian.
He never washed.
His house had been extensively damaged in the Newcastle earthquake 10 years earlier and there was no hot water heater.
So he never washed.
He wouldn’t go to the doctors.
His twin children had died at birth and his wife some time later, he blamed the doctors.
Even talking about it today I can still almost taste the smell, it was that bad.
Fred would every week faithfully unlock the church.
He should have been in a nursing home, but we couldn’t make him go.
I understand that eventually he finally he relented.
2/ If we were faced with a humiliating insult and then being confronted by an undesirable character our reaction would normally be one of anger and disgust; yet Jesus, facing exactly this, showed love.
Jesus faced one of those incredibly uncomfortable experiences when he was invited to dinner at Simon the Pharisee’s house.
Jesus had every right to be angry and to feel humiliated.
Simon had ignored all of the social customs of greeting his guest.
He had not kissed Jesus on the hand or the cheek, as he should have done to a well-known teacher.
He hadn’t provided any water for Jesus to wash his feet in; everyone provided water for their guests to wash their feet.
The roads were dusty and people wore sandals. Simon being a wealthy man should have provided a servant to wash Jesus’ feet but he didn’t.
And then just to add insult to injury Simon condemned Jesus for allowing a woman to touch him.
To literally cry all over his feet and wipe her tears away with her hair.
Jesus has just been insulted publicly by his host.
Dinners with travelling religious teachers were in those days’ public affairs.
They were held in the courtyard of the host’s home.
Guests would recline at the table and the general respectable public were welcome to stand around and listen but not get too close.
This woman should not have even been there, she wasn’t a respectable person to be welcome to come and observe
She breaks every rule in the book.
She is a sinner, most likely either a woman who slept around or a prostitute.
She should not dare to enter the house of a religious leader, let alone approach the guest of honour.
To then unbraid her hair, a highly sensual act, which a woman was not supposed to do in front of any man but her husband.
And then she breaks open an alabaster jar full of perfume.
This ointment is a sign of her trade in sex.
She uses it to neutralise the unpleasant odour of men who don’t get to wash often.
This sign of her impurity she uses to anoint Jesus’ feet.
We would be angry, Simon certainly was.
But Jesus responds in love.
He actually says she has been forgiven for her many sins.
She has understood her sinfulness and responded with great love towards God.
3/ Our response to an offence is often directly proportional to our perception of how big the offence is. The bigger the sin against us the angrier we become - Luke 7:41-43
When someone offends and humiliates us we react.
We usually get angry.
We withdraw our favour for that person and we may become difficult and gruff.
If the offence is minor and one off we quickly get over it.
But if the offence is large or repetitive our feelings toward that person go down hill real fast.
These feelings show a basic flaw that we have.
We don’t love the unlovely!
If someone is unpleasant, we avoid.
If someone is rude to us, we isolate them.
If someone is broken and an example of all that is wrong with this world, we label them as bad.
If someone is pleasant and beautiful, we shower them with attention.
If someone is actively courteous and helpful towards us we label them as good.
We show favour to the favourable and condemnation to the condemned.
We don’t love others as God has loved us.
4/ Jesus took a different approach; he had an attitude of gratitude towards God’s love and it was this attitude the woman demonstrated when she came to Jesus’ feet.
This woman saw what Simon didn’t do and was overcome to provide this missing courtesy due to Jesus in whatever way she could.
Jesus had shown her love.
We don’t know the exact circumstances but probably she had heard him preach and saw love in his message.
Or perhaps Jesus and his female disciples had actually reached out to this woman and shown her acceptance.
It is obvious that somehow she saw in Jesus true acceptance for her as a person.
Perhaps for the very first time in her life someone had seen her as a person and not as an object to be used.
She had been condemned to a life of immorality; perhaps even from birth she had been sold into slavery and therefore prostitution.
Never had she received true unconditional love.
She was overcome by gratitude for the respect that Jesus had shown her.
His attitude of gratitude to his heavenly Father’s unconditional love was what he shared with this woman
She was in the eyes of her society unlovely and Jesus showed her gracious love.
Overcome with emotion she sees the insult that Simon pays to Jesus and is overwhelmed with a need to do something to show her gratitude.
She doesn’t intend to make such a scene but if she could just anoint Jesus feet with the perfume she wears around her neck.
She would show that she the lowest of the low has respect for this wonderful man.
She showed an attitude of gratitude.
5/ What is your attitude?
Do you live as if you have been forgiven little or much?
After all none of us sitting here today are really bad people in the eyes of our society!
But in reality we all know that in God’s eyes we were just as broken and sinful as the worst of sinners.
How does your attitude affect your relationship with God and your treatment of others?
Do you love the unlovable as Jesus did?
Do you do this because you know that in reality you are no better than they are?
Do you have an attitude of gratitude towards God’s forgiveness of your sins?
Does this result in you loving others as God has loved you?
I found Fred hard to love, but I had to learn to love him as God did.
That meant looking out for him,
It meant admitting that he was one of my members and caring for him one day when he had a car accident.
It means being obedient to God’s command to take the gospel to all places.
For us that is the Ripley and Ipswich region.
People who largely see themselves as self sufficient, without need for church and God.
People who are lost yet will respond to those they percieve as having a real relationship with God that is expressed through a gracious and joyful heart.
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