“He was going into a village when he was met by ten men suffering from a dreaded skin disease. They stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus! Master! Take pity on us!” Jesus saw them and said to them, “Go and let the priests examine you.” On the way they were made clean. When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. Jesus said, “There were ten men who were healed; where are the other nine? Why is this foreigner the only one who came back to give thanks to God?” And Jesus said to him, “Get up and go; your faith has made you well.”
Luke 17:12-19 GNT
It is easy to pronounce judgement on these lepers in our heart. After all, because of Jesus they had been given their lives back. Their disease isolated them from family, friends, and community as a whole. All of the basic privileges of the general public had been stripped from them because of this terrible disease, and they were forced to an isolated, and lonely existence. We may think, how can one not give thanks or express gratitude for such a drastic life change? Shouldn’t it be the natural thing to do? However, before we become too hard on these ten lepers, let’s stop and consider our own hearts.
How often do we take our blessings for granted? How often do we fail to thank the Lord? Psalm 107:8 says, Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.” This verse is a challenge for me to evaluate my own failure to do just that. When have I not considered the wonderful works of God around me? When have I been quick to gripe and complain, rather than celebrate His wonder and declare His goodness?
Far too often we are content to enjoy the gift, but we forget the Giver. Do you think the 9 who didn’t return would have considered themselves ungrateful? Probably not, after all they had new lives. They must be happy about that. Yet, out of 10 disease stricken people, 9 did not give thanks. That is 90 percent who missed an opportunity. Only 10 percent chose to express gratitude immediately. The reality that unfolds is this, nine experienced Him as healer, but one experienced Him as both healer and Saviour.
When have I been quick to ask for prayer, but slow to praise God for the answer to that prayer?
We should, as people of God, cultivate a heart filled with grace and gratitude. Scripture warns that the ungrateful heart is the fertile soil for all kinds of sins. (Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…)
The issue for all of us, is not whether God is doing what we think merits thanks, but whether we recognize Him at all times.
This man sets an example of gratitude for us. His praise is fervent, his humility is obvious, and his thanksgiving is clearly directed at the one to whom he is grateful.
Today, I am grateful for the piercing of God’s Word in my life. I am thankful that even when I don’t recognize Him, He remains committed to me. I am grateful for His healing in my life. He has raised me from a bed of sickness not many years ago and has restored my life. I may not have been as quick as the one who gave thanks in this passage, but today, I offer my grateful heart to Him as I say, “Thank you, Lord.”