Luke 17:11-19 (NKJV)
11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
My son and I read a chapter this week discussing the importance of gratitude. It was this story of the ten lepers that served as the theme. Consider our story. These ten men had contracted one of the most dreaded diseases of the ancient world, a disease that numbered these men among the living dead. But something remarkable happens. Jesus crosses their path, they cry out to Him for healing, and Jesus tells them to show themselves to the priests to verify their cleansing. As they go, the lepers are healed, restored, purified. Remarkable! Amazing! And one of them – only one and that one a Samaritan – returns to Jesus, praises God, and gives thanks to Jesus for His act of mercy. And Jesus then asks – “Where are the others? Were there not ten healed? Why has only this one returned to give glory to God?” Jesus then blesses and commissions this one, assuring him of pardon.
As we consider this story, we may be tempted to ask, “Isn’t Jesus being a bit uncharitable?” Perhaps the nine other lepers were thankful in their hearts and just didn’t return to say so. But this is where Jesus rebukes us – true gratitude, true thankfulness, He insists, always manifests itself in action. Jesus tells us elsewhere that out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, etc. A corrupt heart produces corrupt actions. Likewise, true internal thankfulness, a grateful heart, will manifest itself in action. So how does the leper manifest his thankfulness? First, he observed the blessing – he saw that he was healed and did not take this healing for granted. Second, he returned and glorified God with a loud voice, praising God’s mercy to Him. Third, he gave thanks to Jesus, to the One through whom God gave the blessing to him.
Today we have been greatly blessed. The Lord has opened up through the hands of the Seventh Day Adventist Church this facility for our worship. We have received a blessing from the hands of God. If we are truly grateful, how ought this to manifest itself? First, we must notice the blessing, and not take it for granted. And though this is no doubt easy to do today – in the weeks and months to come we will be tempted to accept the gift as routine. Gratefulness, however, is always astonished, always amazed at the gift.
Second, we must turn to God and give thanks to Him. When we first received word from the senior center that we would have to vacate their facility, I certainly did not imagine that the Lord had in store something even better. What of you? But here the Lord has answered our prayers and opened up a beautiful facility. Let us praise the Lord, for His mercies last forever.
Third, we must thank our hosts with our actions – with notes of thanks, acts of service, and respect for their building. It is this last thing that I wish to draw our attention to today. We have been given the gift of using this facility, so let us treat it with respect. Children, you especially need to be mindful of this act of thankfulness – not only today but in the weeks to come – do not run on the pews, do not play in the sanctuary, keep your donuts in their place, listen to your parents, don’t touch things that are not ours. True gratitude manifests itself in action.
Reminded that we are frequently ungrateful, imagining that gratitude is only a matter of the heart, let us kneel and confess our ingratitude to the Lord.