So much has changed in our world in the last two hundred years. From agriculture to medicine to transportation, the list is practically endless.
If we expand the timeline to the last two thousand years, the changes are breathtaking.
Some things, however, never change.
One day during His ministry on this earth, Jesus was walking to Jerusalem and encountered ten strangers. More specifically, He encountered ten lepers. The Word of God, in the Gospel according to Luke, records what happened that day:
“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’” (Luke 17:11-19, NIV)
Leprosy was a fact of life in ancient Judea, but it was far more than just another physical condition. Those who suffered from this disease were outcasts from society. They could not even come close to others. Instead, they had to stand at a distance and yell, “Leper! Leper! Unclean!”
Few of us can imagine the fear – or the resulting stigma.
Little wonder, then, that the opportunity to be healed was a dream come true for them and their families.
“Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
It was a plea for help. A plea to be rescued. A plea to be restored.
“Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
The Son of God was moved with pity, and He healed them. All ten of them.
That could have ended the story, but Luke’s account, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, encompassed more than just a divine healing. In the end, it was about what people do – or fail to do – when God touches their lives.
In the field of social psychology, an attitude has been defined as “a relatively enduring organization of beliefs, feelings, and behavioral tendencies towards socially significant objects, groups, events or symbols”. Michael A. Hogg and Graham M. Vaughan, Social Psychology (London: Prentice-Hall, 4th edition 2005), 150. Stated differently, an attitude is a way of thinking, or a tendency of responding, that affects the person’s behavior. For example, when someone receives an act of kindness, he or she can respond to the giver with an attitude of entitlement (“I deserved it”), an attitude of indifference (“who cares?”), or an attitude of gratitude (“thank you”).
As parents, my wife and I have tried to teach our children to respond to the generosity of others with gratefulness. Some believe that such a response is just good manners, while others see something much more important at stake.
The Generosity of God
When God gives you something, it is because He loves you. Like the love of a human parent but in its highest, purest, and most perfect form, God’s love is an outpouring of the very essence of the Divine Giver on a level that cannot be fully understood or explained.
Sometimes God’s generosity comes in the form of a challenge. Sometimes it comes in the form of an opportunity. And sometimes it comes in the form of a miracle.
Almost two thousand years ago, the lives of ten men were forever changed because Jesus Christ healed their bodies and restored their lives. They were no longer outcasts. They were no longer feared. They were no longer despised.
Of the ten, however, only one returned to offer his thanks. Only one praised God for the indescribable gift they had all received.
As a human father, nothing warms my heart like having my children throw their arms around me and whisper, “Thank you, Dad.”
As our heavenly Father, God wants nothing more – and He deserves nothing less.
A Lesson for Us All
Each day, God bestows on us the gift of life anew. He rallies our spirits, and He empowers us to continue our journeys for another day. He gives us renewed joy. He gives us newfound peace.
Sometimes we receive the miracle for which we have been praying.
Sometimes He asks us to be patient and to trust His perfect will, His perfect way, and His perfect time.
All of these are gifts from above. They spring forth from God’s love and will bring you closer to Him who is love (1 John 4:7, 16).
And, with an attitude of gratitude, be thankful for them.
-- Dr. John Morris