The Heart Of The Healed — Moved By Gratitude
Chan Gin Kai
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled 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? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)
Our first article in this series explored how tragedy equalises us, and the second article studied how faith always results in obedience. Today, we shall look at how blessings may not always result in gratitude.
Blessed But Not Grateful
10 lepers were healed, but only one returned. He was grateful, and that’s an understatement. He was “praising God in a loud voice” and he “threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him”.
Back in ancient days, leprosy was like a death sentence as there was no cure. As the disease ate away at their skin, eyes and nerves, parts of the body rot away. Lepers were feared and hated. Abandoned by friends and family, lepers stayed in tents outside the city and survived on scraps.
These 10 lepers were not just relieved of their ailment, they were saved from certain death. Being cured of leprosy also meant they could be reunited with their families and reintegrated back into society. Their lives were restored!
But only one of them returned to thank Jesus.
The other nine? What a shocking bunch of ingrates!
But, come on, is it really that shocking? We are often blessed by God and don’t respond with gratitude. I’ve been guilty of that.
We’ve grown so comfortable in God’s love that we take Him for granted. Each answered prayer is quickly forgotten as we pile on new requests. Each blessing builds our sense of entitlement as our gratitude dissipates.
We don’t notice our blessings because we obsess over our problems. We fix our eyes on comparatively smaller troubles and hurts, forgetting that our biggest problem has been solved — we are saved!
We don’t notice God’s power as we obsess over our own. We attribute our victories to our abilities, and our achievements to our hard work. We blame our failures on God’s neglect as we deny our weaknesses and omit our responsibility.
We can’t see God’s loving involvement in our lives when our eyes are engrossed with our desires and our minds are too full of ourselves. God actively works in our lives. His plans (even when we don’t understand them) are alway to our benefit.
We are incredibly blessed, let’s be grateful.
Obedient But Not Connected
The 10 lepers had faith in Jesus’ words and obeyed his instruction to go to the priests. Nine of them were Jewish and one of them was Samaritan.
The Jewish religious system and the way the society functioned at that time ensured that every Jew grew up knowing the teachings of the Old Testament. The concept of obedience is of course prominent in the Old Testament, and especially in the way the Pharisees taught it. Naturally, not everyone obeyed everything all the time, but any flouting of Jewish laws would not be for lack of knowledge of it.
It certainly took remarkable faith, but the lepers had no problems obeying Jesus’ instructions. However, they had zero connection with him… they didn’t even return to thank him. This was the case with many Jews at that time too, obedience to God without a relationship with Him.
Obedience is of course crucial, as we explored in our last article. But the tricky thing is that we may do the things that God expects without a connection with Him.
I obeyed my superiors when I was in the army because it was my duty to the nation, coupled with a fear of punishment. Friendship with them was not necessary to the equation. Many employees obey their management simply because it is their job, and they’re paid to do so. They don’t see the need to go beyond a professional relationship into a personal friendship. We can be obedient, but not connected.
But that’s not the kind of relationship God wants with us. He loves us incredibly, and wants more than just our obedience. He desires our hearts.
Do we obey God because we were brought up that way? Or is it out of fear of punishment? Or perhaps to seek His blessings? Or even out of a strong sense of integrity? We need to build a personal connection with God, based on our gratitude for His love.
Let’s remember God’s love, and be moved by our gratitude to Him. He longs for a personal relationship with us.
Read more about ‘The Heart Of The Healed’:
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.