In the 1990’s, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominated the NBA. Commercials exhorted kids to “be like Mike,” and many kids tried to emulate the moves that Michael Jordan could make. A few years ago, Michael Jordan and David Robinson were inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame together, and I remember reading an article which said, “Be like David, not like Mike.” This article was based on the speeches that both players gave at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Michael Jordan’s speech centered around himself and those who had opposed him or stood in his way. He essentially ridiculed anyone who had crossed him, such as the coach who cut him from the high school team and the teams who drafted other players ahead of him. But David Robinson’s speech centered on giving thanks to those who had helped him in life. In his speech, he cited the event in Luke 17 when Christ healed ten lepers. Ten men with leprosy came to Christ and sought healing. Luke 17:14 says, “And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” Christ sent them to the priest (according to the Old Testament law, someone who thought he was cleansed from leprosy needed to be examined by the priest before he could return to normal society). Each of the ten men showed some level of faith. They believed that Christ could heal them, and they showed this faith by heading toward the priest even before the healing came. They were healed as they went to the priest.
But when they were healed, they had different responses. Nine hurried on to the priest to be examined and return to society. One did something different. Luke 17:15-16 says, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.” One came back to thank Christ. One came back to glorify God for this great gift of life. All ten showed some measure of faith. All ten were healed. But only one took the time to come back and thank Christ for the great gift that he had. It is very possible that he had a family that he wanted to get back to. It is very possible that he was excited to see family and friends whom he had not seen in a long time. But he put aside those priorities to take the time to come back and thank the One who had given him the gift of life.
In his Hall of Fame speech, David Robinson cited this event, saying that he felt like the one leper who needed to come back and give thanks. He saw that the things he accomplished were a gift of God and that God had used the lives of others to influence him. So he didn’t hurry on to make himself look great without stopping to thank those who had helped him, including God. That is the point this author made when he said, “be like David, not like Mike.”
We should have the same response in our own lives when we see the great gifts that God has given to us. God has blessed us greatly, and we must never forget where these gifts come from. 1 Corinthians 15:10a says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am . . .” We are who we are because of the grace of God. Even the good things we have or that we accomplish in our lives are by God’s grace. As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, it is easy in our world to overlook giving thanks. It is easy to spend Thanksgiving Day eating or watching football or starting to go Christmas shopping. We live in a fast-paced society, and it is easy to forget to stop and give thanks. But we must not make that mistake. We must be like the one leper who came back to thank the one who granted him the gift of life. We celebrate Thanksgiving one day a year, but it should be a pattern of our lives. We should live in a pattern of Thanksgiving, giving thanks to God for what He does in our lives as well as thanking others whom God uses to influence us. Instead of rushing on to enjoy our accomplishments or enjoy the things God has given to us, we must stop and give God the thanks that He truly deserves.