“There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger” – Lk. 17:18 KJV
The scripture above relates to one of the miraculous acts of Jesus Christ while on this earth. On this occasion, ten lepers met him at the point of entry into a town asking for mercy over their situation. Surely because of their leprosy, they could not even move close to him so they had to shout to get his attention. Whatever he told them to do was so easy and just as they were on their way to complete the instruction, they were cleansed. Only one of them however thought it wise to go back which was to show gratitude to him for the Grace that he just received.
Today’s scripture is the reaction of Jesus Christ where he expressed his disappointment at the other nine who did not see any reason to show gratitude. He probably felt sorry for them too because by not showing gratitude, they missed the seal on the miracle they just received. Jesus completed the miracle process for the only one that returned with a single pronouncement that declared the man whole. Ten men were cleansed but only one was made whole.
There is a huge difference between the cleansing and the declaration of being whole. In the old testament (Lev. 13:46; 14:1-32), any one diagnosed of leprosy is not allowed to stay within the camp. During the period of treatment such a person must remain outside the camp until he is clean of the infection. However such a person will still not be allowed into the camp until specific ceremonial rites have been performed and then declared whole by the priest. Until then he is not allowed to come back into the camp.
Because of the Grace that came with Jesus, the ten men did not have to go through the process of treatment. A mere pronouncement by Jesus Christ was all that was required for them to be clean but because the other nine did not see Christ make any physical move (after all he did not move close to them), they probably did not see his contribution to their recent experience and so did not think he merited any form of gratitude. It is possible they just went back to their home because again they could not ascribe their cleansing to the Priest, after all they got healed before getting to him. So it was all probably coincidence and so none of them deserved gratitude.
Christians today also behave in similar fashion. In the time of their challenge, they are usually very humble regarding themselves as unworthy to move near the throne of Grace. Jesus sees their humble state and shows them mercy (Eph. 2:13) but because they cannot see the physical intervention of Jesus Christ or their Priest in that situation that was resolved in their favour, they see no reason to bring commensurate gratitude to the Lord or to the Priest. They at best appreciate that person who signed out that contract or that cheque or that person who physically carried out that act, just as they may still see that also as a coincidence concluding that it was destined to happen any way whether all these individuals made their intervention move or not. They do this because they are ignorant of the entire process and they have the spirit of ingratitude. This is a major reason why blessings of Christians never last and they sometimes look for witches and wizards in their family or their environment to blame. That you refuse to acknowledge the contribution of all these people does not mean that those contributions were not made for you to achieve that success. Acknowledging and appreciating the wrong people does not correct this error either as gratitude belongs to the person that rendered the favour.
What Christians do not realise is that like most spiritual acts in life, showing gratitude is to the advantage of the individual and not the receiver. In the instance of the story in reference, Jesus performed the second and most crucial step of the miracle process, again quietly such that only the wise will be able to discern it. He declared the man whole implying that he is now fit to come before God with his sacrifices and supplications. It means that he can now ask for more favours and he will more likely be heard. It means he will no longer serve as the obstacle to the sacrifice of others during group worship with his unwholesomeness. All these because he showed gratitude.
An ungrateful person will only have cleansing but no declaration of healing. He will only have comfort as long as the miracle he got can last him/her as there is no hope of any new miracle experience. An ungrateful person will be an obstacle to others around him and ultimately an ungrateful person will receive no more help in times of need from God and consequently from man. Are you sure that unacceptable situation you find yourself in is not the result of ingratitude? You may have shown benevolence to people but that cannot be a replacement for gratitude. Learn and begin to show gratitude today and you can rest, assured that all those challenges that are defying solution will begin to disappear gradually. Gratitude to God and man may just be the key to that long desired victory. May God grant us all the spirit of gratitude in Jesus name. Amen.