"And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice, glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving thanks." Luke 17:15-16
Here's a healed leper, who in response to the Lord's mercy in his healing, did that which man's conscience, experience, reason, morality, emotion, common sense, and the good example of others all teach us is the only proper response in his situation--he returned back to give thanks.
The event in Jesus' ministry is well-known. Ten lepers approached him, not crying out, as the law would require, "Unclean! Unclean!", but rather crying out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
His response to their request is unlike anything most of us would say: "Go show yourself to the priests!" This command of the Lord was so that they would fulfill the Old Testament law of being declared ceremonially clean after they arrived there, since Jesus was going to heal them enroute to the temple.
All ten were healed instantly as they went in obedience to the command of Jesus. If you and I had been among the ten, and realizing we were healed, do you not think we would all turn back, being overwhelmed at what Christ had done for us? But only one did. How could the other nine go on without returning back to the source of their miracle? But only one returned to give thanks. After the Lord Jesus healed the ten, only one returned, worshipping Him and giving thanks.
What a failure of the nine and what an example of the one who returned. It is important to follow this example. Do we do the same? We certainly ought to go to the Lord to express gratitude to Him, every time we are conscious of anything He does for us. How often do we return to give thanks? There ought to be many times daily. Only 10% of the lepers returned; what percentage do we fall into?
What does this event teach us?
The Lord notices ingratitude. Jesus' first words to the one leper were, "Were there not ten? Where are the other nine?" When we are not thankful enough to turn back and give thanks after God's mercies come to us, something is wrong; how could anyone be so ungrateful for grace received? He sees and knows when we don't return back to give thanks; the Lord notices our ingratitude. Jesus said, "Where are the nine?" He was looking for them, and they were not grateful enough to return. He notices ingratitude.
Does a heart of ingratitude cause temporary amnesia? How can we forget? Because we don't have a thankful heart all the time. I wonder--when the Lord has mercy on us in situations and we don't return back to give thanks, does He say of us, 'Where are they? Look what I just did for them and they did not even stop to really give thanks?" He notices our forgetfulness regarding thankfulness.
The Lord notices gratitude. When we return to give thanks, the Lord notes it, and it blesses Him; it is a ministry to Him; that is why the Bible calls it a sacrifice: "I will render thank offerings to You." (Ps. 56:12) Hebrews also speaks of our offering the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Giving thanks is not just feeling thankful--it is opening our lips and speaking it, voicing it; GIVING thanks to God.
The Lord blesses gratitude. The Lord said to him, "Go your way--your faith has made you whole." He rewards, in different ways, those who return in gratitude to Him; John Blanchard says, "I give this as my testimony, that there is marvelous therapy in thanksgiving." He is right; it is therapeutic in every way. It not only ministers to the Lord when we return to be thankful, but it does good things to and for us. Dietrich Bonhoffer said, " It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." I believe he was right.
David was thankful
"Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name."
"Give thanks unto the Lord, for His mercies endure forever."
Paul was thankful
"I give thanks to God always . . ." - 1 Cor. 1
"I do not cease to give thanks . . ." - Eph. 1
"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father . . . " - Eph. 5
Do we return automatically with thanks to Him for what He does for us?
Gratitude springs from genuine faith; if we believe God and are trusting Him, we will be returning to thank Him continually. The faithless are ungrateful and the ungrateful are faithless, while the believing soul is thankful and the thankful soul is the trusting soul.
Every time you sense or recognize His mercies toward you, just return and give thanks. It will make your day and His as well.
- Mack Tomlinson