The story of the ten lepers in Lk 17:11-19, who were healed of leprosy by Jesus, is a story that has profound teaching on thanksgiving. Ten were miraculously healed but only one (not two… not three…) returned to say thanks. One can easy criticize the behavior of the nine without looking at how sometimes we react in a similar way! Yes, in a similar manner. You see, each of the nine must have had a plausible excuse of its own kind or an explanation for not going back to give thanks.
Here are nine possible excuses that they might have given:
- It is Jesus’ business to heal so why bother myself thanking him– ‘In fact he delayed, he should even have come earlier!’, they must have said. The garden of ingratitude is watered by pride. Underneath this excuse lies pride. A heart full of pride cannot bow down in humble appreciation to a shown favor/grace, for a proud heart says ‘I deserve it all”. No wonder the one who went back to express his thankful heart s was a foreigner, a Samaritan; the Jews felt they deserved it.
- I will go later and convey my thanks– Perhaps one of the healed lepers thought of giving thanks but later. One might have thought of first updating his friends, family, and acquaintances about the healing and later on give thanks. Procrastination in expressing gratitude shows that our priorities are attached on other (wrong) things.
- One of us has already gone to say thanks and he represents our views anyway– One of the healed lepers might have used the one thankful leper as a scapegoat. The truth is: no one can clearly express your thankful heart other than yourself. The lepers had a lot in common in their day-day struggles but each healing was a unique story.
- God already knows that my heart is grateful– The fact is: unexpressed gratitude is ingratitude.
- What matters is that we are healed. –This attitude attaches no value or priority to the act of thanksgiving. It only makes one minimize the work of God and the former situation in which we were in. The healing was important but thanksgiving is also the main thing.
- Mine was only a disease, unlike the blind and lame– Some of the healed lepers might have been tempted to compare their miracle with “others” who were worse than “us”. Comparison will only lead us to complaining and not to giving thanks.
- Is it really true that we are healed? Let’s give it time– At the heart of this excuse lies unbelief; doubting the work of God. A doubting heart does not give glory to God but ascribes the work of God to prevailing circumstances. Doubters will always doubt irrespective of available facts and evidence.
- Ooh I forgot it!– One or some of the healed lepers might have simply forgot to go back to Jesus and express thanks. It sounds a serious joke to be said of someone who had just been healed of a deadly disease. But the truth is that there are some people who simply do not have the word “thanks” in their vocabulary. Waiting for that word to come out of their mouths is like waiting for the sun to rise from west.
- What difference will it make?- Thanks is something we give not take. The word is precisely “thanks-giving”. A heart that is full of ingratitude is a heart that is always at the receiving end. But a grateful heart is always at the giving end. Why is it that few people (perhaps a tenth) have a thankful spirit? It is because many people are only comfortable receiving than giving.