Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

1 Ten takers one thankful – Part 1

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Luke 17:11-19

11 As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”[b] And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you. ”

How often do parents find themselves having to prompt their kids to say “thank you” when someone shares a treat or a helping hand? As parents we do this because we want our children to grow up to be respectful and use good manners. It’s the motive of many and one of the reasons why I encouraged my kids to say thank you as they were growing up. Yet I wonder if in our attempt to produce properly mannered children if we have not overlooked the heart of thanksgiving. Are we teaching and bringing our kids to a place where thankfulness is more than being polite, but a recognizable part of their personhood? Thankfulness is not about a habit it’s about the heart. If there is one sin that we are soft on today, one sin that seems to slip by unnoticed, one sin with enormous side effects, surely it is the sin of ingratitude. We are quick to point out all the so called serious sins but when it comes to a thankless tongue, we let it slide. Today we live in the society of self where there is only room for me and my wants. Why do we let our gratitude grow cold, because we see ingratitude as a small thing, and because we are so distracted by self that we fail to see the devastating dimensions of ingratitude. We have become so sophistically selfish that we have outgrown gratitude. We are the thankless takers, self-centered consumers, never content and always crying out for more. We are miserable because we are no longer mindful of all that God has done for us. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” The truth is that if the starts only came out once in our lifetime then we would stay up all night to behold them. But we have seen the stars so often that we don’t bother to look at them anymore. Whenever we take someone or something for granted, we will in turn take away gratitude. How often do we take God for granted, have we become so accustomed to being blessed that we no longer bother to say thanks? We have become the society of the spoiled, entitled, empty and easily angered. What made this nation great was a generation of grateful and God fearing men and women, now we have a nation of narcissist’s. A society of toddlers stuck in their terrible twos, teetering on the verge of throwing their next temper tantrum. When did the attitude of gratitude get replaced by an attitude of getting? Today we are like the child who after receiving a free banana and being prompted by a parent on what to say, quickly hands the banana back saying, “Peel it.” The evil of entitlement is that it leads to the extinction of gratefulness. Look you can grow a nation without gratefulness but it will never be grown up. The truth is that ingratitude is nothing new; the sin of selfishness has been around for centuries. America is only 200 years old but if we look back 10 times that amount of time we will still see thanklessness. In Luke 17 we see ten takers and only one thank you. Out of the ten grabbers there is only one that is grateful. The story in Luke 17 starts with a:

  1. PROBLEM

As Jesus entered the village there were ten men standing at a distance due to their leprosy. This was a disease that disabled and led not only to disfigurement but also distance. A sickness of skin sores as well as complete social segregation. Leprosy left you unclean, unwelcome and unwanted. These were men mutilated by sickness and marginalized by society. Their pain was more than just physical it was emotional for they were unable to engage in everyday living. A sickness of separation, a disease of distance that left them shut out from family. How long had it been since they had felt the healing touch of a loving hug, or heard life in the voice of laughter? Not only were they shut out from family but also from friends. No longer did anyone come over or invited them to go anywhere. They were not just shut out from family and friends but also from fellowship with God the Father, for they were forbidden from entering into the temple to worship. What was it that kept these men at a distance? The Law, which clearly called for them to live separate and segregated lives. It was the law that kept them from love from life, and from the hope of healing. But notice scripture says that it was into their separation that the Savior came. Jesus showed up in the midst of their sickness, he came to their town. They couldn’t come to God so He came to them. In the midst of their problem we see God’s promise and power. Here in this moment between the lepers and the Lord we see the perfect picture of our situation, separated by our sickness, distant and in desperation of a Savior. It is here that we see the Savior, the only way to the Father, stepping in with the solution to their sickness. Here we see not only the limits of the law but, the Lord doing what the law can’t. What the law declares off limits, Jesus declares loved, where the law says can’t Jesus says clean.  Jesus purposely crossed paths with these men, God’s plan is to heal our pain and provide a way to peace. Jesus came to care for the cast aside, to heal the hurting and restore the ruined. This text teaches us a critical truth, your family can’t save you, and your friends can’t save you and while we stand afar off from Him, he does not stand afar off from us. Where the law leaves us separated the Lord leaves us loved. So let me ask you what has the Lord done in your life? Have you heard His words of hope and felt His healing hand, have you experienced His love and life? What is your response to redemption, have you returned to rejoice? Sadly the response of the redeemed seems for the most part to be silence. There is no marvel no music, no walk of worship for what He has done. Was it because they wanted the healing but not the Healer? What about me, am I minimizing God’s marvelous work in my life, am I grateful to God? Why didn’t they return to rejoice, why don’t I? Is it because I just want the “fix” of forgiveness and not really the Father? When you really consider the work of God’s grace in your life shouldn’t it result in a grateful heart? Has His redemption become so routine, like the stars, that we no longer gaze with gratefulness upon His greatness? If our response to God is not one of gratefulness then do we really get grace? Sometimes we get so focused on how we feel that we forget about the Fathers forgiveness. We allow our current crisis to overshadow His goodness. We fail to rejoice because we fail to remember. What if we were to stop focusing solely on what we wanted God to do and actually took the time to remember all that He has already done. We get so caught up in our current mess that we minimize His might and majesty. We are so busy obsessing about our present problems that we have forget to praise Him for His power over our past ones.  Is your walk one of wonder and worship or one of walking away? What does the world think when they witnesses our worshipless walk, why wouldn’t they conclude that our God is not great when they see our lives of ingratitude?

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