As the Lord Jesus Christ passed through a Samaritan village, ten individuals corporately called to Him for help. These ten men were grievously ill with the most dreaded disease of that day. They were lepers, which meant that they were in the throes of a slow, agonizing death.
Lepers were required to keep a distance from people because of their contagion, so they tried to get His attention from several feet away. Their voices sounded forth the hope that vibrated in their bodies, “Jesus? Master? We are very ill. Will you have mercy on us?”
Without hesitation, the Lord graciously responded. Perhaps they felt a bit of immediate consternation, because the Lord simply told them to go show a priest what had been done to them? Why did they have to do that? Had he healed them, they probably wondered. But, the Scripture records that they had not gone far when it was realized they no longer had leprosy. They were evidently cleansed and healed miraculously. Jesus had answered their request.
In the meantime, they kept on running – that is, nine of them kept on running. Of the ten, one returned to personally give thanks to the Lord.
It is significant that the Lord took issue about the nine who kept on running, for He asked, “Were there not ten cleansed? You have returned but where are the other nine?”
They had not returned to give thanks for their miraculous and life-changing experience, and the Lord was keenly aware of their unthankfulness. As is typical of most human responses to the blessings of the Lord, they had more than likely changed their mind about needing the Lord anymore after their fear of dying had been relieved and they realized they could return to normal living again.
I can imagine the conversation among them went something like this right before they went their separate ways:
“Yeah, saying thank you would probably be a good thing to do, but I will wait and do it later.”
“Not me, man. I don’t need the Man anymore.”
“The same with me. I got too much living to catch up on.”
“I do, too, but I have to get back to work first. I am behind on my payments for my boat and motor.”
“Something I question is whether getting healed was a big deal anyway?”
“For me personally, I believe that it was. I am truly thankful, and, what I am going to do, is that I will do my best to keep Jesus in mind every now and then.”
“Not me! I am not saying a word about it. This Christ-stuff is too embarrassing.”
“Well, I would not go that far. But, one thing for sure, I know where to go if anything like this ever happens to me again.”
What does it make us when we keep running after the Lord has helped us? It makes us unthankful! Being unthankful is arrogant, because we are convinced that we have the Lord right where we want Him. We get what we need from the Lord, give Him a token acknowledgement, and then keep Him at a leper’s distance from our lives. After all, there are too many spiritual ramifications involved for getting too close to the Lord.
But, the one who returned to give personal thanks convicts us to the core. First, he expressed genuine, heart-felt thanks for the blessing bestowed upon him. “With a loud voice,” says the Scripture, “he glorified God.”
Second, he demonstrated a genuine willingness to remain faithful and committed to the Lord. The man clearly realized how blessing is the evidence of assurance, favor, and providence from God. This is noted in how he “turned back” and “went and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.”
People who keep on running are identified as unthankful people for the good providence of God. But, thankful people reciprocate the blessings of God by living out their thanks.
Thankfulness means more than just feeling lucky. It rather carries with it an inherent desire to reach upward and touch God with our lives. And, then, in the same manner as God has done through Christ, reach outward to touch the lives of men with both the good of God and the love of God.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.