As we sang “Give Thanks” at church Sunday, I started thinking about what it means to have a grateful heart. This story came to mind.
“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? 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.'” (Luke 17:11-19, NIV 84).
We know that a leper had a contagious disease; therefore, he would be exiled from within the village and forced to live in a leper colony outside the gates. He would be separated from his family and friends. The leper would have to announce the fact that he was “unclean” everywhere he went. And he was in terrible pain from a disease that often caused the loss of limbs.
As sinners, we have a contagious disease. Our sin affects those around us. When we are lost, we are unclean, separated from a holy God. We are exiled from the life God has called us to, rejected, lonely, and suffering the pain that sin brings.
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2).
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).
When Jesus reaches out and touches us and cleanses us from our sin, we are made whole, healed, and complete. We are no longer cast out but welcomed in. We are made righteous through the blood of Christ and brought into fellowship with the God of the universe. We are no longer rejected but accepted. We no longer suffer the pain of the curse of sin (death and hell).
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes take that healing for granted.
I imagine the other nine lepers were good people. They probably were so excited to be healed, that their thoughts turned immediately to their families and the fact that they could go home again and enjoy the fellowship, food, and comforts of home.
Sometime that’s what I make Thanksgiving to be–a celebration of the fellowship, food, and comfort of family. But what if I came instead and threw myself at the feet of Jesus–just grateful to be saved from the pain and loneliness of sin?
Gratitude is a condition of the heart. It’s not a one-day-of-the-year celebration with family and feasting, but an everyday realization that apart from Christ, I am nothing but contagious, unclean, rejected, and cursed.
Lord, this year I pray for a humble, grateful heart. I don’t want to go about my business–healed, but busy and boastful. Instead, let me fall at your feet in grateful praise to the One who has made me well.