I’m glad that we have a day on the calendar called Thanksgiving. But I also think we should give thanks all the time, because God is good.
In the New Testament, we find a story about the importance of thanking God. Luke’s gospel gives the account of 10 men with leprosy who were miraculously healed by Jesus. These men were outcasts of society because of their disease. They couldn’t sink any lower in that particular culture. And at that time, there was no known cure for leprosy.
Therefore, these men had become outsiders in every sense of the word. They had to keep a considerable distance from other people at all times. When they saw someone approaching, they had to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” And they no longer were allowed to go to the synagogue and worship.
In reality, leprosy was like a state of living death. You would lose your sight. You would lose your ability to hear. And in time, your limbs, fingers, ears and nose actually would come off. You lost all your dignity and were treated with contempt.
So here were these 10 men with leprosy who heard about Jesus. They heard that He actually healed people of the terrible disease they had. Nothing like that had been seen since the days of the Old Testament when God did this miracle on a few select occasions.
Luke’s gospel tells us that as Jesus made his way to Jerusalem, “ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!'” (Luke 17:12–13 NLT)
Now, Jesus healed people in many different ways. He spoke to some. He touched others with his hand. Others touched him and received healing. There was even one occasion when he healed a blind man by spitting in the dirt, rubbing his fingers in it, and then wiping the mud on the man’s eyes.
In this case, Jesus told the men to show themselves to the priests. And that’s just what you would tell someone who had been cured of leprosy to do. A priest would examine them during an eight-day ceremony to confirm they had been healed.
The only problem was these guys still had leprosy. Jesus didn’t heal them by speaking to them. He didn’t rub mud in their eyes. And he didn’t lay his hand on them.
These men still had leprosy. Yet Jesus was telling them to go and show themselves to the priests.
What was the point in all this? They were to do what Jesus told them to, because he told them to do it. The point was obedience by faith. Jesus quite simply told these men to show themselves to the priests – to just obey Him. Nothing more. Nothing less.
And they did obey. They went to see the priests as Jesus told them to. As they were on the way there, suddenly they realized they didn’t have leprosy anymore. They looked at each other and noses and ears started to reappear. Fingers and toes came back. Barnacled skin became soft and supple again.
The Scriptures tell us that one of these men was a Samaritan. Normally, Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with each other. But this man, once he realized that Jesus healed him, “came back to Jesus, shouting, ‘Praise God!’ He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done” (Luke 17:15–16 NLT).
Earlier, the men had cried out to Jesus for healing. And now, after receiving it, the Samaritan cried out with praise to God.
Out of the 10 men who were healed, only one returned to give thanks. How insensitive. How selfish. And how like us, don’t you think? We all probably can look back at times in our lives when we pleaded with God to come through for us in a given situation. And after he did, we didn’t offer a single word of thanks. Worse yet, we might have attributed it to luck or good fortune.
It reminds me of the man who was nailing down a loose shingle on a high roof when he lost his footing and began to slip. Obviously he was terrified, knowing he would fall to his death. So he started crying out, “God, help me! I’m falling! God, do something!”
Still, he kept sliding. But just as reached the edge of the roof, his belt loop caught on a nail, and he was able to grab hold again. So he called out, “It’s OK, God! I got caught on a nail!”
That’s how we can be. We cry out to God, and he answers our prayers. Then we say, “It’s OK, God. The credit card came through.” “It’s OK, God. Everything seemed to work out.” “It’s OK, God. Uncle Harry just called.”
But did we ever stop and think that God might have worked through Uncle Harry? That God may have had that person positioned in that place to help you? That God may have worked through certain circumstances?
We need to put as much zeal into thanking God for what he has done as we put into pleading with God when we’re in need.
The Samaritan man gave praise to God for all that had taken place. And this doesn’t happen often enough.
What would you think of a person who was always asking you for things, always wanting something from you, but never offered a word of thanks to you in return? We can be that way with God, can’t we? We forget to give Him thanks.
Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17). I wonder whether he would ask that same question today. Would he find those who are as quick to give him thanks as they are to call on him for his help?
When is the last time you gave thanks for all that God has done for you?
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