Summary: When was the last time you thanked God for all that He has done for you?
An Attitude of Gratitude
One day a woman was rushing home from a doctor’s appointment. The doctor had been
somewhat delayed at the hospital, and the lab work took a little longer than usual so by the time
she left the clinic she was running quite a bit behind schedule. She still had to pick up her
prescription, pick up the children from the baby-sitter, and get home and make supper, all in time
to make it to the prayer meeting at her church that evening. As she began to circle the busy
Wal-Mart parking lot, looking for a space, the windows of heaven were opened, as it says in
Genesis, and a downpour began. While she wasn’t usually the type to bother God with small
problems, she began to pray as she turned down the row closest to the front door. "Lord, you
know what kind of a day I’ve had, and there’s still an awful lot to do. Could you please grant me
a parking space right away, oh, and close to the building so I don’t get soaked." The words
weren’t even completely out of her mouth when she saw the backup lights of a car come on at the
end of the row. It was the best space in the whole parking lot, right next to the handicap spots and
straight out from the front door. She made straight for it and as she pulled in, she said, "never
mind God, something just opened up."
It’s kind of an amusing anecdote, but how many times do we ask God for something, and then
when we receive it, we behave as though it were quite an unusual coincidence, and we fail to give
credit where credit is due? That’s exactly what happened in our Scripture reading this morning.
The healing of the lepers reminds me of the story of Naaman and Elijah. Naaman was a leper and
knew he was going to die. You remember the story: Naaman finally finds the prophet, Elijah, who
sends his servant out to tell this leper to go and dip himself seven times in the Jordan River. No
dramatics. No fireworks. Just a word to obey. It seemed too easy: simply wash and be clean. But
it was God’s Word. And as he obeyed, Naaman was made clean of his leprosy.
It was the same with the ten. They were sick with an incurable disease, they were marked as
untouchables, kicked out of fellowship with anyone except other lepers. They begged at a
distance for anything and everything they needed. It may have been just a long distance prayer,
but that cry was heard. The response from Jesus was just a command. But it was a response.
It says they met Christ as he entered into a certain village. They didn’t wait until he had
something to eat or drink, but met him as he entered the town. And tired as he was, He
Jesus gives them an assignment within the law. He tells them: "Go and show yourselves to the
priests!" I can imagine that these men were probably confused; They knew they were leprous.
They might have examined their hands, noticing that the flesh was still decayed. They saw no
change. They had felt nothing. They couldn’t go see the priest like that! Yet they could not be
re-admitted to society until they did!
They might have thought, “Well, I don’t seem to be healed, but I’ll do what He said.” So they
shrugged their shoulders and started walking toward the city to present themselves to the priests.
But, you know, God often chooses to answer our prayers as a result of our own obedience.
And so we read, “As they went, they were made clean.” They looked at their hands, and the skin
was restored. They stroked their faces, and the sores had been healed. They peeked under the
bandages, and the signs of decay had disappeared! Their fingertips and ears were back.
“. . . they were made clean.”
Ten people that day received the benefits of God’s grace! Ten people were reached by the love of
God, and made legally and ceremonially clean. But nine of them kept on going without a
backward glance. These people seemed to puzzle Jesus. "Where are the nine?" He asked. It seems
they never thought of the God-connection; never thought of giving thanks to God. Why didn’t
they return to give thanks?’’ This indicates to me that ingratitude is a very common sin.
This Samaritan leper closed the circle of grace that day of his cleansing. Instead of focusing on his
illness, and his very considerable pain, now he worshiped the God who had set him free. And that
gratitude completed his healing. As he worshiped he was made whole. In the Old Testament story