“And 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. And he was a Samaritan. So, Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17:15-18
That last phrase, “…except this foreigner”, reveals something particularly important. At the beginning of any relationship, we are usually grateful for every little thing the person does for us – like opening a car door, cooking us dinner, paying for a meal. However, as time goes on, there is something that can begin to grow, often without us even noticing it, that is a relationship killer – that is, taking these types of things for granted.
This seems to be what happened with the ten lepers that Jesus healed. The only person who came back to give thanks was “this foreigner”. In other words, this indicates that the other nine were Israelites, the ones who had been in a relationship with God for a few thousand years at this point. And the ones who looked down on Samaritans, considering them part of a polluted religion.
So often it is the unchurched, pre-Christian that is the most grateful when they experience being touched by God for the first time. It draws them near with hearts of thanksgiving. I see this in church services when a visitor is taken back by the presence of God, many times crying through the whole service when those of us who come to church week after week are noticing things like the sound being too loud, or the service starting a few minutes late.
In our daily lives, those of us who have experienced God for years can become accustomed to His goodness, and even take it for granted. The first sign of this is when we begin focusing on what God has not done for us lately rather than living lives marked by gratitude for every little thing He does.
The greatest loss in living a life of ingratitude is not seeing your relationships deepen. It is the same in our relationship with God. The nine lepers who grew up knowing God received their healing just as the Samaritan did. But the Samaritan received something even greater – a deepening relationship with God.
In this season where there is so much pain, loss, division, and hatred it can be easy to lose sight of the goodness of God in our lives.
I want to encourage you to protect your relationship with God from becoming one that is simply based on getting your immediate prayers answered to one that is ever deepening by living a thankful life.
Q. What can you think of in your life that you have not given God thanks for lately?