Summary: We've been brought up to say, "Thank You," when someone gives us something. With all of God's blessings our lives are one BIG "Thank you."
Luke 17:11-19 "Good Manners"
Every Christmas season I enjoy watching the movie "Santa Clause," with Tim Allen. For me, the movie is filled with gems about life and faith. One such gem occurs early in the movie. Scott Calvin finds himself at Santa's workshop after his first night delivering presents. He's skeptical--to say the least--at what he sees. In his struggle he says, "What if I just don't believe." Judy, one of the elves, replies, "You don't get it. Seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing." What a great line!
Believing, seeing, and giving thanks is what this passage of Scripture--the story of the ten lepers--is all about.
The story is a familiar one. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. He's between Samaria and Galilee (a little like we are between the cross and the coming). While he is in that between place, Jesus encounters ten lepers. The lepers call out to Jesus asking for mercy and for healing. Jesus tells the ten of them to go and show themselves to the priests (to confirm their healing), and while they are traveling to the temple they are healed. Only one of the lepers, who is a Samaritan, returns to thank Jesus. The question before us is, "Why did this leper act differently than the other nine?"
The difference is not in who the leper was. Yes, he was a Samaritan, but that would not necessarily have caused him to act differently. The element that made the Samaritan act differently, was that he saw what had happened, and he saw beyond what had happened.
• Because he sees what has happened, the leper recognizes Jesus, his reign and his power.
• Because he sees what has happened, the leper has something for which to be thankful, praising God with a loud voice.
• Because he sees what has happened, the leper changes direction, and veers from his course toward a priest to return first to Jesus.
We have talked a lot lately about perspective. Christians are people who see life (or at least are invited to see life) from a different perspective. We live differently because we see differently. In the face of adversity, we can see either danger or opportunity and react differently because of our view. In the face of human need, we can see either demand or gift.
The Samaritan leper saw his healing as a gift. Because he had received a great gift he was able to give Jesus thanks and praise.
A central belief to the Christian faith is that the God whom we worship is the creator of all things. Because of this everything belongs to God. God graciously shares his abundance with us. Another core belief is that God is with us through all of life and carries us in the palm of his hand. These two truths enable Christians to see the world differently and allow us to cultivate a life of contentment, gratitude, and thanksgiving--no matter what our outward circumstances may appear to ourselves or others.
A STEP OF FAITH
The thankfulness of the Samaritan leper caused him to be an example of faith.
The Christian life--the life of a disciple of Jesus--is more than a set of beliefs. It involves several small steps of faith (and a few big ones) such as denying oneself, having an outward focus as opposed to an inward focus, and loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.
This passage proclaims to us that thanksgiving is also an action of faith. Thanksgiving can demonstrate our faith and be a powerful witness to God's presence and power in the world.
Gratitude may be the purist measure of one's character and spiritual condition. The absence of the ability to be grateful reveals a self-centeredness, or the attitude that I deserve more than I ever get so I don't need to be grateful.
Besides turkey, pumpkin pie and football, what do you see this Thanksgiving, and how will you respond.