This post you are about to read was inspired by a message I heard many years ago by Andy Stanley. Through the years Andy’s unique outlook on common Bible passages has inspired me. I hope this article will inspire you this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
Have you heard the story of the 10 lepers who come to Jesus for healing? Jesus heals them all, BUT ONLY ONE RETURNS TO GIVE THANKS.
This is their story …
Luke 17:11-13 – Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
I want to pause here because to fully grip this text we need to understand a little bit about leprosy in Jesus day.
- It would begin with pain in the joints, feeling tired all the time, lethargic, move slowly and feelings of numbness.
Some of you are thinking … that’s me!
- A leper would also begin to lose sensation in their nerves. So they would cut their finger, ear or leg and not even feel it. There are stories of rats that would come and gnaw on their fingers and toes when they slept and they couldn’t feel it.
- Their skin would begin to ulcerate.
- They would get these discolored patches of flesh on body and face.
- People with leprosy would have their vocal cords ulcerate leaving their voice hoarse and rasp.
In Jesus’ day leprosy was a death sentence. If you were a leper when you entered town ~ you were required to shout “Unclean, unclean!” Lepers would never be with their family or friends again. You were not allowed to worship at the temple. They would live in a colony outside of town left to rot and die. They were worthless.
This is the condition of the 10 men who encountered Jesus.
Luke 17:13-14 ~ They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14When he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
As they were walking ~ something happened …
- Where their faces had been callused and disfigured … suddenly their skin was smooth.
- Where they had no feeling .. suddenly they could feel again!
The nightmare was suddenly over. Hope had returned. They were going to live!
This was indeed the greatest day of their lives!
Luke 17:15-19 ~ One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
This is where I especially love Andy’s insight …
Ever since I was a child I have been taught … “Don’t be like the nine!”
That is the moral and over arching principle of this story.
I mean HOW UNGRATEFUL CAN YOU BE? These guys were just given their lives back! They were cured and cleansed. They were going to be able to embrace their children again. They were going to be able to go back to work and go to the temple to worship.
They have been given their lives back, and they didn’t even go back to Jesus. How ungrateful.
Don’t / be / like / the / nine!
Let’s be realistic, curious friends.
Do you really think these 9 guys were ungrateful?
Again, I love Andy’s insight …
I don’t think so!
I don’t think these guys were ungrateful.
These guys have just been given their lives back.
Where do you think they went after they were cleansed?
I believe they went back to their homes and instead of shouting “unclean, unclean” they shouted “I’m clean, I’m clean!”
They jumped, danced, hugged kids, kissed wives, shook hands and no one ran from them. They were as thankful and grateful as they could be.
The problem these nine men had is not that they didn’t FEEL gratitude … their problem is that they never returned to express their gratitude!
Ten guys are grateful in their hearts and only one returned to outwardly express his gratitude.
This leads us to the HUGE relational principle that we must understand today.
actually communicates ingratitude.
If you are not careful you can spend your whole life believing you are a grateful person when actually others around you view you as ungrateful.
How could this be?
It’s simple … most of us tell people how grateful we are for so and so and so and so and so and so …
But we never actually take the time to go back to tell “so and so”!
This happens all the time.
If I were to ask you who you’re grateful for in your life … you would say …
You could make a list.
You would exude gratitude!
But my question is … do those people know you’re grateful?
Have you expressed your gratitude to them?
Do we return our gratitude to the ones who deserve it?
Are you like the 9, or are you like the 1?
The other nine lepers no doubt expressed their gratitude to their family and friends over and over and over and over. And that is great, but Jesus was the person these men needed to go back and express gratitude towards.
Our unexpressed gratitude
actually communicates ingratitude.
I want us to realize this Thanksgiving and Christmas season that we actually have a lot in common with the 9 who did not return. It’s not that we are ungrateful. We just don’t take time to slow down and go back and express it!
May I suggest during this season that you …
- FEEL gratitude for you husband or wife … you just need to take the time to express it to him or her.
- FEEL gratitude for you job … you just need to take the time to express it to your boss.
- FEEL gratitude for your friends … you just need to take the time express it to your friends.
- FEEL gratitude for your church … you just need to express it to your church.
Send someone you are thankful for a text, email, snapchat or better yet a phone call or letter today.
Don’t be like the nine.
Live curious friends.