The ten lepers slowly, but deliberately, hobbled down the middle of the street, knowing that at any minute someone might come out from the shadows and shoo them away. They were desperate. They had to find out if what they had heard was true. Stumbling along the way, leaning on their canes, covering their faces as they spoke, they stood before Jesus. “Jesus, would you heal us?” They cried?
All Jesus said was go, show yourself to the priest. He didn’t make any gesture with his hand, or touch them. He didn’t pray a long, religious prayer, no he just said show yourselves to the priest, and as they turned and walked away, they were healed instantly. I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like for those ten men. Leprosy is a horrible disease, one that rots flesh and destroys the body little by little until there’s nothing left and the body dies. These men had no hope except Jesus. And Jesus, in his mercy, healed them all. As they were on their way to the priest, one man returned and went back. He fell to Jesus’ feet and thanked him profusely.
Jesus questioned him, “Wasn’t there ten of you? How is it you are the only one to return and say thank you?”
Then Jesus said to the man, “Get up, your faith has made you well.”
Wait a minute, weren’t they all healed as they left to go to the priest? Jesus said the man’s faith made him well. Not only was his body now healed, but so was his soul. Jesus was talking about the man’s soul. Thanksgiving was a sign of the man’s faith. His soul had been transformed and was no longer dark and empty.
The apostle Paul said that those who do not give thanks to the Lord are without excuse and their hearts are dark. Dark, empty souls are thankless souls devoid of the light of Christ. I have noticed that people who are never thankful, are never happy, no matter what they have. Nothing makes them content, nothing makes them happy. They want more and more things, experiences, thrills, money; you name it. They are never satisfied because they are never thankful.
I met a sweet lady the other day at a church where I was speaking, and after I finished my message, I had the privilege of praying for her. Never in my life have I met anyone as happy as she was. She smiled with eyes that lit up the room and smelled like an English rose garden. But those were not her most distinguished attributes. She was thankful. She must have thanked me a dozen times for praying for her. After everyone was gone, the pastor told me that the woman I prayed for was homeless. As a church, they had tried to help her, but she said she had no needs and wouldn’t accept help. She rode the bus in from the city every Sunday and her attitude was always the same. She had an attitude of gratitude. Thankfulness was deep in her nature and it showed in every aspect of her life, right down to how beautiful she smelled.
I knew a man in Africa who lived in a cardboard box. He worked hard washing cars and was thankful for every minute of his life. Soon he had saved up enough money to move out of his box to a shanty. The last time I saw him, his eyes glowed with joy because God had been with him and he continued to thank the Lord for His abundant provision.
It is sad to see people who have so much, be so dissatisfied with life. Especially in America, where we live in a land of plenty. It seems like no matter how much we have; it is never enough. We have lost sight of how wonderful God has been to us and forget to thank Him for our blessings. We don’t stop to turn around and thank the Lord when he provides and blesses us, much like the nine lepers who never thanked Jesus for their healing.
Jesus showed us a pattern that has often been overlooked. When he broke the bread for the five thousand men, he thanked his Father. (Mark 8:6) Before he called Lazarus from the dead, he thanked his Father. (John 11:41) When Jesus taught his disciples how to go out in ministry, and declared to them that God would use them, he thanked his Father. (Luke 10:21) Thanksgiving was a part of his nature.
I would challenge you today. Look to see how many things you can thank the Lord for. Thank him for the food you eat, the blessings you have in your life. Thank him for your home (whatever it may be) for family, friends, and your church fellowship. Tell the Lord how grateful you are that you didn’t have an accident on the way to work. Thank him that you didn’t catch some sickness when you went to the grocery store, when you pushed the same cart that thirty people before you had set babies with dirty diapers on, sneezed on, and set uncooked blood dripping meat on. Thank the Lord that what you don’t know didn’t hurt you! Thank God for his goodness and his mercy, and that he loves you and never leaves you. Thank him that you are never alone because he promises to never leave us.
How many things can you think if today, that deserve a response back to the Lord? What if people measured your faith by your gratitude?
Luke 17:11-19 ESV
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.