Lessons From Lepers

“…and as they entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, sir, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go to the Jewish priest and show him that you are healed!” And as they were going, their leprosy disappeared. One of them came back to Jesus, shouting, “Glory to God, I’m healed!” He fell flat on the ground in front of Jesus, face downward in the dust, thanking him for what he had done…” (Luke 17:11-16, NCV).

Then there is the rest of the story.

Ten were healed. One returned to say, “Thank you.” Nine did not.   The one received something the nine did not.

Perhaps the nine were too focused on being free to remember who had given them their freedom. Maybe they were prideful and thought they deserved what they had been given. It could have been they were simply anxious to return to the lives they once had. Whatever the reason, they failed to express their thanks to the One who had healed them. And, ultimately, while we may not know the fine point details, we do know the absence of thankfulness made a difference.

The tenth leper was first blessed physically, then blessed spiritually for his thankfulness. While the others were cleansed of their leprosy, it seems this thankful one received something more when Jesus said, “…thy faith hath made thee whole.” The others received healing; this one received wholeness.

When we measure our blessings against our gratefulness, perhaps, if we’re not careful, we can let our focus be on the gift and not the Giver. We view ourselves through the carnival-mirror of self-righteousness and mistakenly deem ourselves deserving of the lives we live. Many of us do, in all honesty, find ourselves at this time of the year a little overwhelmed by the “the holidays” and all they entail and may indeed just be too busy getting through to think about being thankful.

Each of us have “habits, hurts, and hangups” as one author labels them, in need of His attention. However, we are each of us, too, more blessed than wounded. We, like the nine, have no excuse for ungratefulness.

When we come to church and “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” we are like that solitary leper who returned to Jesus to simply say, “Thank you.” Our presence in His presence is an act of thankfulness. When we are thankful, it brings wholeness to our hearts and lives. If, by chance, you are in a place where thankfulness seems just beyond your reach, read Psalms 100.

Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

Psalm 100:5 tells us why: “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Spiritual blessings are more important than physical blessings. In expressing our thanks, may we find ourselves made whole in His presence. May we take the time to throw ourselves face-down in the dust of our busy-ness and cry out with grateful hearts to the One who makes us whole.

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks” (Luke 17:16, KJV).