GRATITUDE AND INGRATITUDE
Luke 17: 11-19
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Did you ever have to say the so-called ‘grace’… “For what we are about to receive may the LORD make us truly thankful”?
What nonsense! We decide whether we are thankful. It is not the LORD’s job to make us!
Me, me, me…
- Children often seem to be ungrateful because they pass through a phase of development characterised by this self-centred attitude… it takes time for them to understand that the world consists of more than “me”
Some adults are still like little children! They only think of their own needs… if others get hurt in the process, so what!
- If I want it, I’ll get it! Even if I have plenty, I still want more!
And in this event we have one of the most famous illustrations of the difference between gratitude and ingratitude… between thankfulness & praise and selfishness
Let’s not be too hard on the nine men… in the excitement of the moment they got carried away and forgot to thank the one who had set them free!
- Don’t tell me that you and I don’t behave that way at times!
Thankfulness is so important in life:
- We should develop an attitude of thankfulness for the most basic and familiar things in life
In Colossians 3: 16 we read:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God
One man who had suffered with leprosycame back to give Jesus thanks… and note that it wasn’t a half-hearted muttered thanks (or ‘Amen’)!
- He praised God in a loud voice
- He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him
The principle is clear… to turn our faces towards God… to praise Him fervently … to submit to Christ… and give thanks for our deliverance
The man with leprosy had good reason to be thankful… but life isn’t always like that, is it?
- What about the times we are not healed?
- When situations are not resolved and we feel that the circumstances are becoming unbearable
These are the times when our faith in God is put to the test
It’s easy to praise God when the sun is shining!
Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-13 that we are to give thanks in every situation…
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength
Learning to be content begins with thankfulness and gratitude to God… accepting that although we may not understand why, or what is happening, we know that the LORD is sovereign
- In Genesis 25: 22 we read a rather strange question asked by Rebekah:
Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies (twins) jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD: “Why is this thing happening to me?”
It’s a question that we all ask at times… Why is this thing happening to me?
- I wonder if the men with leprosy were thankful BEFORE they were healed? I doubt it!
The key factor is whether we are walking in step with the Spirit… if so, we have nothing to fear…
- If we are in the will of God and have peace in our hearts about a situation, we will ‘learn to be content’ and ‘give thanks with a grateful heart’
- If we are outside the will of God, we might be bringing about our own downfall and that’s when circumstances can become unbearable
Imagine contracting a disease after behaving irresponsibly… we could hardly blame God OR thank Him!
So it isn’t only the circumstances that dictate the way we respond but rather our relationship with God and our behaviour that counts
- Jesus responded to all of the ten, regardless of their attitude, lifestyle, sinfulness or any other aspect of their personalities
- He didn’t take account of their position in society…they were the lowliest in the social order yet Jesus offered them hope in the same way as he offered it to the great ruler, Nicodemus
Do we have preconceived ideas about who is and who is not ‘worthy’ to be saved?
- They were ALL healed when they obeyed what Jesus said to them (“Go and show yourself to the priest”)…
- But one man got his priorities right… he praised God and acknowledged that it was Jesus who had made him whole
There is a common grace that God extends to all who turn to Him… and sometimes even to those who don’t!
Just as Jesus healed all 10 men… so Jesus’ blood takes away the sin of the whole world…
John 1:29: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
2 Corinthians 5:15… He died for all that those who live should live no longer for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again
So the sins of every person have been taken away by Christ’s death on Calvary
2 Corinthians 5: 18,19: “Now all things [are] of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
So every person has been reconciled to God
But just as only one man with leprosy gave the glory to God and turned in faith to Christ… so an individual is only saved by acknowledging who Jesus is and what He has done for ‘me’ in dying and being raised from the dead: “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”
In other words, it requires a personal response to the risen Jesus in order to be saved… not even sins wiped out or reconciliation to God alone
- So, according to the Scriptures, we are not saved by having our sins forgiven
- We are not saved by being reconciled to God
- We are not saved by ‘letting Jesus into our hearts’
We ARE saved by praising God for who He is and what He has done at Calvary in Christ… and casting ourselves at the feet of the resurrected One, who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end
God then, but only then, puts His Spirit in our hearts… “Those who do not have the spirit of Christ do not belong to Him”
So GRATITUDE is more than a courtesy…
- More than a formality… more than a legalistic requirement…
- It involves repentance … praising God, acknowledging who Jesus is and giving our lives to Him by faith with thanksgiving
May we learn from the story of the ten men with leprosy and then ask ourselves the searching question: “Have I ever truly acknowledged what Jesus has done for me and turned to Him as my Saviour and Lord?”
And as we give God thanks for what He has done… so let’s have a thankful attitude towards others…
- Remember that the love you show to others is like showing it to Jesus Himself
How about becoming a more grateful and thankful person instead of a moaner… and an encourager to those we sometimes take for granted?
When I die, may it be said of me… “This was a truly thankful person” … A person who gave the glory to God and whose life reflected the goodness of God in every aspect of his or her life“