There's a story in Luke's account of the life of Jesus where Jesus encounters ten lepers. In the story, Jesus tells all of them to head down the road and they will be healed on the way. And then the story ends like this:
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:15-19)
We might make the observation that Jesus seemed to expect more from them than just their willingness to believe and walk in faith. When only one of the lepers returns, we notice that Jesus seems to have expected this sort of response from the entire group. “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
There is a particular type of faith that we can possess which is the same type of faith that we see in the nine who didn't return. It is a faith that is commonly birthed from experiencing circumstances of great desperation. It's a faith that cries out to God for mercy and is even willing to try anything the Lord might prescribe. However, it's a faith that at its core is seeking personal gain rather than God’s loving grace. It's a faith that cares more about what God has to offer rather than the offer of God Himself.
The nine lepers were so eager to be declared clean and return to a life of normalcy within their community that the thought of returning to Jesus didn’t seem to even cross their mind. Often times, we can be quick to respond in faith when we want or need something, but then immediately after we get what we want or need an ungrateful forgetfulness quickly replaces that desperate faith that we seemed to possess.
Great need gives birth to faith, but abundance can kill it quickly.
The disappointment expressed by Jesus toward the neglectful nine who didn't return reveals the contrast between God’s rightful expectation of gratitude for His gifts and our false expectation of being rewarded for mere dutiful obedience. Instead of a grateful heart that recognizes it has received what it has not earned, this kind of dutiful heart we see in the nine says, “I did what I was supposed to do so I got what I was supposed to get.”
Beware of a heart that expects grace rather than one that is amazed by grace.
In his letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul writes:
For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)
Paul explains that the very reason for spreading the gospel is so that thanksgiving towards God may abound more and more to the glory of God. This was his motivation for persevering in the face of persecution. Paul realized that the more he suffered then the more the grace of God would be made available to others. The more grace that was made available to others then the more people would call on the name of God. The more people called on the name of God then the more thanksgiving would ascend towards God. And the more thanksgiving ascended towards God then the more God was glorified.
Therefore as we get ready to celebrate a week of Thanksgiving, may we all take time in the midst of this week to do just that. May we not overlook the amazing grace of God that is just waiting to be acknowledged all around us, and may we give God more glory by giving God more thanks.
10 Verses to Contemplate:
Mark 10:45 - For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Romans 5:8 - But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:1 - There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:32 - He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
2 Corinthians 5:21 - For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 8:9 - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
1 Timothy 1:15 - The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
1 John 4:10 - In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Revelation 5:9 - “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seal for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”