The Gem of Thanks

Luke 17:11-19

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” -A.A. Milne

My parents were very big on having their children say “Yes, ma’am” “No, sir.” “Please” and “Thank you.”.  They believed the respect they made us practice in  our words would one day reflect in our hearts. In a society that so rarely mirrors respect or gratitude to others, I am very grateful for my parent’s persistence.

But what about your heart ?  Is your time consumed with a wish list of the things you must have to be happy?  How does it affect you when you don’t get your way?  Do you notice the people in your life that do the thankless, unnoticed jobs? Is your focus on “me” or “others”? Is Gratitude a habit in your life?

On his way to Jerusalem Jesus passed through a small village in the Samarian area of Israel. As he walked down the dusty road from a distant hillside a group of ten lepers came out waving and yelling. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  When a person had begun to show the signs of leprosy, they had to leave their family and move outside the city . How isolated they must have felt to only see those they loved from afar. Never to hold their hands or feel their hugs again.  As this horrible  disease ate at their flesh, the struggle devoured their spirits. These ten lepers were truly a picture of hopelessness.

Luke tells us that Jesus called back to them, “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” This was the only way a leper could ever go home, if he could prove to a priest that he was healed.  I love that the Bible give us the detail that they were healed only after they began to obey and head toward the priest. I always wonder what if other lepers were near, yet never asked for help or skeptically turned and went back to their lives of misery.  But we will focus on the ten that begin to move toward the village and the priest, and their sores healed. I always wondered if missing toes, fingers, nose or ears re-appeared?  I cannot even begin to understand the joy in their hearts as they look at their flesh and HOPE is realized.

But this story doesn’t focus on those who didn’t ask to be healed or those nine who rushed home. Luke directs us to the actions of the One.  “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,”.  This man could have just turned and yelled “Thank you.”. No one could blame him for rushing to the priest and then home. But just yelling was not enough for this man. He rushed back all the way to Jesus. “ And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks”.

This man wasn’t content to just have the number one thing on his wish list crossed off.  He was not content to just say “thank you”, like his parents persistently taught him.  When he turned to look at Jesus it struck his heart, this man is God. Life suddenly became about more than being healed.

There falling on his face before God, the leper found the gem of thanks. It’s Jesus. He forgives our vile sins and heals the scars they produce. He gives hope to the hopeless.  He gives a new beginning when life seems a dead-end road.  But it isn’t just what God gives but who God is that overflows even the smallest of hearts with gratitude.

Have you found the gem of thanks ?

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