Summary: This sermon says that gratefulness is important to our God.
ILLUSTRATION Five years ago before he succumbed to cancer, Tony Snow, former political commentator, speech writer and White House press secretary, said the following to the 2007 graduating class at the Catholic University of America: “Wherever you are and whatever you do, never forget at this moment, and every moment forward, you have a precious blessing. You’ve got the breath of life. No matter how lousy things may seem, you’ve got the breath of life. And while God doesn’t promise tomorrow, He does promise eternity.”
Maybe we should take Tony’s advice and look beyond our momentary troubles to see both this life and the life to come as precious gifts for which to be grateful. Our text for today reminds us the importance of being grateful. Please open your bibles to Luke 17:11-19. This passage says that Jesus healed ten lepers but only one came back to thank Him.
What was Jesus’ reaction to the nine lepers signified? Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" (vv. 17-18) Jesus was surprised that only one out of ten came back and gave praise to God. Jesus demonstrated his mercy and surely did not expect something in return. He showed his fair mercy on everyone – Jews and Samaritan alike. However, Jesus was not pleased to see the ungratefulness of some of His beneficiaries.
Psalm 103:2–5 (NIV) 2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Psalmist said that we should not fail to praise the God who forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases, who redeems our lives from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion, and who satisfies our desires with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Many times God uses human benefactors and we should not forget to express our gratefulness to them – parents, siblings, friends, military, employers, strangers, co-workers, fellow believers, and others.
There are many ways to show our gratefulness to them and to God – words, service, goods, prayers, commitment, obedience, love, kindness, etc.
Why did the nine lepers fail to return and thank Jesus?
We do not know. But we all know some of the reasons people failed to show their gratefulness.
1. Self-righteousness – “I deserve this!”
Deuteronomy 8:17 (NIV) 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”
Ungratefulness occurs when we think that we deserve the help or blessing or we think that it is someone’s duty and responsibility to make our lives happy.
2. Forgetfulness – “I did this!”
Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV) 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
We fail to give the honor to whom it is due. We think that our success or achievement was due to our own strength and wisdom.
3. Commonness – “It is always accessible!”
Sometimes we no longer show our appreciation for the good things or people easily accessible and available to us. The so called “normal” provisions never excite us anymore to give thanks to God.
4. Discontentment – “This is not enough. I want more.”
When one has a discontented heart, gratefulness is absent. No matter how much they receive, it would always be short and therefore no reason to say thank you. But a contented heart will always say thank you no matter how little he receive from others.
ILLUSTRATION There is a story told of two old friends, Bob and Eddie, who bumped into one another on the street one day. Bob looked miserable, almost on the verge of tears. Eddie asked, "What has the world done to you, my old friend?" Bob said, "Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, my long lost uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars." "That’s a lot of money" Eddie replied. Bob continued, "Two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand dollars." "Sounds like you’ve been blessed...” Eddie began to say. "You don’t understand!” Bob interrupted. "Last week a distant aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million from her." Now Eddie was confused, "Then, why do you look so gloomy?" Bob responded, "This week... no one died!" (copied)
What can we learn from the example of the grateful Samaritan?