Monday, November 09, 2009

Where are the Nine?

Read Luke 17: 11-19

I have studied and pondered this passage for years. In fact, this was the very first Bible passage that I taught over thirty years ago to a youth group. This has perplexed me; why did they not go back? It was not far or out of their way. They did not just get over a cold; they were healed of a stern, life-ending sickness that cut them off from society, from family, from work, from living, yet 90% made the choice—no, we will not give our gratitude. This was a slap in the face of our most Holy God who gives and condescends to give us the mercy we do not deserve. At the same time, He gives us the faith and tools to make life work. It is our duty to receive them and grow and give them back so we can give more. Gratitude works the same; we are given a gift, that of salvation that we do not deserve. So then, how do we live our life in response? Do we make it our duty to give and be appreciative to the One who has given us so much? Or do we recoil in our condition and fears and remain in our pride so we do nothing of Kingdom value?

Here are some plausible reasons I collected over the years…

10. Perhaps one was scared; he was not sure what happened, but knew of Jesus’ popularity and was too bashful to present himself to Him.

11. Perhaps one was offended and saw the journey to the priests and the admission of his disease to be overwhelming and too much to bear. The way of Jesus was too hard to be real.

12. Perhaps one was offended because this was too easy. What about all the gifts to the Temple his family had made, or his fasting and devotion to the rules of the Pharisees? The way of Jesus was too easy to be real.

13. Perhaps another saw this as too little, too late. After all, he prayed fervently about this for years, and his family had rejected him. He was now old and had nowhere to go. His leprosy was his only identity and comfort in life; now he had none.

14. Perhaps another leaper just forgot. He ran back to his family so ecstatically, and in all of the commotion of shocked relatives and following the priestly requirements, he simply forgot.

15. Perhaps one of the lepers was so jaded by years of begging only to be an outcast and receive scraps that his bitterness consumed him, so being thankful was no longer in his mindset or capacity. He felt no one deserved his gratitude, even the One who healed Him.

16. Perhaps one of the lepers was a woman and she rushed back home to her kids like a caged animal released back into the wild. So, she was unable to ever leave them again, even long enough to say thanks to the One who made her reunion possible.

17. Perhaps the eighth one thought that this just happened, that Jesus did not have anything to do with it. He did not believe in miracles anymore, so His healing was just a coincidence.

18. Perhaps the final and ninth leper did not believe he was healed. He looked into a pond and saw his fingers and toes restored, his skin back to its healthy olive color, but he was in shock and did not know what to do. He might have thought this was just a dream, so he did nothing.

These are classic excuses of our fallen sinful nature for why we do not like to give thanks. Perhaps, you see yourself in one or more of these excuses. I know I do sometimes. But, we have to know who our Lord is and what He has done for us, and out of that response, offer Him gratitude that is overflowing from us to all those around us! Our Lord is there giving us His mercy, standing and telling us to arise to our faith (This list is inspired from Rev. Martin Bell and a sermon he did at my church, All Saints Carmel, when I was a kid in the early 70’s. I still remember it!).

Gratitude will enable us to live out our lives centered upon His glory, so our lives are inspired to personal growth and thus “spray out” Christ-like thanksgiving an essential aspect of good character. We will be able to strive for greater heights, good works, and personal growth, the things that are important. So, our goodness by what He has done for us will become intertwined with distinction for one another. It is not because we earn anything, but because we are filled with gratitude, which translates into compassion and friendship with others.

When we learn and apply the attitude of gratitude, then Christ is glorified; moreover, quality relationships are built: us with God, us with one another, and us with the world as influencers! This happens best when we realize that Christ paid our debt in full! We will become living signposts for our Lord—considerate, appreciative, and never critical to others.

Where is your thanksgiving?

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At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 2:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Jesus hes so good and loving and so perfect and u get the point but i got to a Christian school and love him so much so bye but i love him so much bye


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