Unexpressed Gratitude is Ingratitude

“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. 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 17:11-19

I’ve heard this passage almost everyday for the last couple summers from David Vining every time Laura passes the ennis courts with the Apple Cart. It’s easy for us to spot the perfect apple, pray it doesn’t have a bruised spot on the underside, snatch it from its resting place in the basket and flee from the cart (the back, of course) without thinking twice about thanking Laura and Gerv for the mid-morning snack.

It’s not that we aren’t grateful, of course. Who doesn’t love the Apple Cart? And if didn’t show up promptly at the beginning of third period, we would surely take notice.

How often is this true of the routine things we take for granted in our lives? We breeze through our days, not thinking of all the people we are passing by with a lack of thankfulness for what they are doing. A while ago, someone taught me a major lesson in gratitude, that is this:

Unexpressed gratitude is ingratitude.

You see it doesn’t matter how grateful we are in our hearts, if we don’t profess it with our mouths and through our lives it becomes ingratitude.

When Jesus heals the lepers, only one leper comes back to thank Jesus. Immediately Jesus wants to know where the other nine are. He knows they have been healed, so where are they? The other nine lepers were surely grateful- Jesus had healed them of their leprosy and freed them from a life of enslavement to their disease- how could they not be grateful?! But only one leper, the returner, expressed his gratitude to Jesus.

Let’s be the kind of people who are returners, who come back to those who have done much to us. This could look like a heartfelt thank you to your parents for all that they do on a daily basis or setting aside the time to write a letter of gratitude to someone who has influenced you. Try and think about times you have been blessed when someone returned to you in gratitude- we have the chance to be “returners” to others.

How often do we show our thankfulness for the greatest gift we’ve ever been given, the gift of Jesus?

The scripture says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We did nothing to deserve the grace of Jesus to save us from a life detached from Him.

Countless times in the Bible we are commanded to come to God with praise and thanksgiving- not because the king of the universe needs this but because He is worthy of it. When we understand the free gift that is the love and grace of Jesus we can’t help but return to Him with grateful hearts.

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