Discover His heart: He responds to our heartfelt praise and thanksgiving
My husband and I didn’t stay in youth ministry for 40 years because of the spontaneous and habitual outbursts of gratitude from teenagers. No, it was because we just couldn’t help ourselves – we loved those kids. But when those words of thanks came on occasion, they were deeply appreciated, and they encouraged us to do even more to minister to them and get to know them in a greater way. Because we are made in God’s image, I imagine He feels the same way towards words of thanks, and the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17 is a beautiful illustration of gratitude and the blessings that flow from it. Just for the record, I would never compare teenagers to lepers.
@ Luke 17
“As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, He reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As He entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’” (11-13) This was the last road trip for Jesus before His death and wouldn’t it be just like Him to travel right through Samaria, the town that other Jews went out of their way to circumvent. I must admit I might have been tempted to avoid groups of lepers calling out to me, but not Jesus.
Jesus made one request of them, “He looked at them and said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.” (14) From verse 13, we know that the lepers knew who Jesus was and perhaps had heard of His healing power. Even before they saw the evidence of healing, they responded in obedience and did what He said, and because of it, they were cleansed
“One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, ‘Praise God!’ He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him for what He had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?’…And Jesus said to the man, ‘Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.’”(15-19) The nine lepers were so focused on their healing that they forgot about the Healer, but the Samaritan man who had every reason to avoid Jesus returned to give thanks. This allowed him to move on to Round Two.
By returning to the Healer, the man not only was healed of leprosy like the others, but he found out why he was healed. His heart of thanksgiving opened up a face to face dialogue with Jesus who gave him one of the keys to future healing, “Your faith has healed you.” However, in the original language, this word healed has a deeper meaning and is often translated made whole, speaking not only of physical healing but of spiritual healing as well. The man’s belief in the Lord and His wholehearted act of giving glory to the Lord made him the winner that day!
God revealed in Psalms, “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” (50:23) And that is what happened for the Samaritan leper! His words of true thanksgiving were not given to get something more from Jesus, but blessing came because of them. Just as gratitude encouraged my heart to do even more for our youth and to know them better, I imagine that God is also encouraged to do even more and to reveal Himself in a greater way in response to our praise and thanksgiving given in honor to Him.
Moving Forward: I will move through this day with praise in my heart and words of thanksgiving on my lips for who He is and all He has done. It’s a win/win situation.
Tomorrow @ Colossians 1-2