“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He 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? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’” (Luke 17:1-19, NIV).
When I get to the end of this story from the life of Jesus, I ask myself, “Is that it? Is that all there is to the story?”
There’s got to be more to this story!
Surely, there has to be some some memorable maxim, some profound proposition, some theological theorem underlying this story?
I suppose that sometimes a “thank-you Jesus” is just a “thank-you Jesus.” Maybe, there’s no mystical meaning to the story intended.
Yet, upon closer scrutiny you will find that there is an uncomplicated but notable underlying message in this story. A simple “thank-you Jesus” spoken by a Samaritan leprosy survivor can have profound theological and psychological implications.
As a matter of fact, one of the most important (if not THE most important) virtues in life a person can possess is Gratitude.
Because, if you don’t have gratitude, then it’s likely that what you do have is gratitude’s opposite or inverse–entitlement–as this story from Luke’s gospel expressly reveals.
A sense of entitlement seems to be the case with the other nine lepers in this story who didn’t make an effort to thank Jesus for healing them. Both Luke and Jesus make the distinction that the thankful man was a Samaritan–signifying the other nine must be Jews.
Yes, God’s chosen ones….
But, God’s entitled ones?
If you are not a thankful or appreciative person, then you probably feel like you are a deserving person.
And, when you feel like you are deserving, then you probably don’t feel like you are getting what you deserve.
Then, it’s difficult to have respect for other people and for God because you probably think that one or both are holding you back, preventing you from realizing your potential.
Don’t take God or people for granted. And don’t think that just because you are a Christian that you are now entitled to God’s blessing or that God somehow owes you.
Maintain an attitude of gratitude, no matter what are your circumstances in life, no matter what comes your way–good or bad.
Then, you will have a happy life now that will prepare you for an eternity of giving thanks to God.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15-16, NIV)