by Stephen F. Olford
Text: “Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks...” (Luke 17:15,16).
Thought: There is no story in the Gospels that so poignantly sets in contrast base ingratitude over true gratefulness. The lepers had come to Jesus with a desperate need and longing. He had cured them, but nine of them never came back to give Him thanks. Among the lessons the Holy Spirit would teach us from this incident are three that relate particularly to this theme of the grace of gratitude—especially at this thanksgiving season.
1. The Rareness of Christian Gratitude. “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (v. 17). Nine out of ten were more ready to pray than to praise; and how true this is today! Invariably, we come to God like these lepers, more ready to get than to give. How easy it is, even in our private prayers and public testimonies, to boast and brag about our salvation, forgetting all the time that we owe everything to our wonderful Lord. Yes, the grace of gratitude is rare.
2. The Reality of Christian Gratitude. “Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned…” (v. 15). When true gratitude masters a believing soul, it expresses itself by genuine thoughtfulness and thoroughness. This leper “returned and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.”
3. The Reward of Christian Gratitude. “Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well” (vv. 18,19). God always rewards a thankful heart. Not only did this Samaritan leper receive an outward cleansing, but he was blessed with an inner cleansing as well. There is no meritorious reward for giving thanks, but there is always a glorified Lord!
Make the grace of gratitude,
Mold my daily attitude;
This, dear Lord, is my request,
Only thus my heart can rest.
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Dr. Olford is founder and senior lecturer of the Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching, based in Memphis, Tennessee.