Summary: This message focuses on the one who returned to give thanks and answers the question: how can we help each other develop a true attitude of gratitude?
The Simple Life at Church
“Developing an Attitude of Gratitude”
My friend Holland Barnes just got back from one of his hunting trips in N. Florida. He always gives me some deer meat so I’m interested in how his hunting trip goes. So when he got back I ask him....did you get a deer? How did it go this time? He says well an interesting thing happened. It had been a slow day and I hadn’t found anything to shoot at. When all of a sudden I heard a noise behind me. I turned around and there were 2 huge bears coming right at me. He said so i quickly raised my rifle to my shoulder and pulled the trigger. Click. Nothing-the rifle misfired. So i reloaded and fired again. Click. Click. Again nothing. The gun just wasn’t working. I said man Holland, what did you do? He says well I threw my gun down and I ran. But the faster I ran the closer they got I said wow what did you do then? He says well I ran right to the edge of this cliff and I couldn’t go any further so he said I did the only thing I knew to do...I dropped to my knees and I prayed Lord please make these bears Christian bears. I said well did it work? He said well not exactly I looked up and I was surprised to see the bears kneeling and one of them was praying...for what we are about to receive Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.
Let me ask you a question. What does it take to make someone thankful. Here wee 10 people Jesus was dealing with ...He healed all of them of a very difficult disease, a very painful sickness and only one of them bothered to say thank you. When I met people who have developed what I would call an attitude of gratitude I often wonder where does that come from; why is it some people are truly grateful while others never bother to say thank you for anything at all.
I believe there are several reasons...
* some follow the example of their parents or another significant person in their life. They saw it in them and they emulated their behavior.
* some have gone through a very difficult trial and they came out of it as a much better person. It made them more thankful
* others may have learned to observe those who are less fortunate. Then we realize just how blesses we are. It gives us a fresh perspective.
In this passage Jesus is traveling along the border of Samaria and Galilee, 2 of the largest cities in Palestine.
In this day without a doubt leprosy was the most feared disease anyone could have. The closest thing to compare it to today would be AIDS. I am told it was very painful but the physical pain was not the worst part. The worst part was the isolation that a leper felt. They were shut off from their family. They were shut off from their friends and because of the position that the religious community took, the felt shut off from God as well.
We notice verse 12 says the lepers stood at a distance from Jesus. This was not out of choice, others forces them to do so. They did not know whether they could approach Him or not. Lepers were not allowed to associate with anyone who did not also have leprosy. They were forced to live in caves or out in the wilderness....later they were placed in colonies so that they could have no contact with the outside world. Some were more fortunate...if the had families, the would bring food to them. But most had absolutely no one who was willing to help. If for any reason the needed to move through a particular town the had to ring a bell that the wore around their necks and the were required to ring the bell and shout very loudly, “unclean, unclean!” so that people could move away. One writer tells us that if the wind was blowing in the direction of a healthy person a leper had to stand at least 150 feet away. There is no way to adequately describe the pain and isolation they must have felt. To compound all of this those who had leprosy were thought to be suffering because of their sin. This was common thinking....you may remember the time when the disciples encountered a man who was blind and had been since birth...they asked Jesus, why is he this way? Who sinned, him or his parents? Those suffering from terrible disease were considered to be unclean and incapable of having a relationship with God. They were basically left to die.