Rate yourself on having a thankful heart, 10 being incessantly grateful, never missing a moment to show gratitude. Where can you improve?
Ten lepers cried out for healing from Jesus when he was passing through their region. He would never pass this way again. Those who said, “Another time,” missed out. It never came. Ten were healed. One returned to say “thank you.” Notice the three questions of Jesus. They reveal much about gratitude–and its lack: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” From these questions we learn that…
- Ingratitude is noticed in heaven. Omission can be as serious as commission. One little word separates sheep from goats for eternity—“not.” Nine lepers did it not.
- Ingratitude separated the nine from Jesus. They kept walking. One returned and bowed down to Jesus. He made a connection that most likely stuck with him through life. He must have told his story a thousand times.
- Ingratitude closes the heart to receiving more. They got their healing. What else could they have received? But they kept walking. The elder brother closed his heart to his father through ingratitude: “…you never gave me a kid so I might make merry with my friends.” He didn’t even want to be with his father. Nine men didn’t want to be close to Jesus. Strange. The greatest miracle in their lives—and they kept walking.
- Ingratitude can spiral people down into perversion. Paul writes about the ungodly, who “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21,22).
- Ingratitude puts us in the company of the wicked. Jesus said that his Father “is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). I wouldn’t put those two words in the same sentence. Jesus did.
- Ingratitude causes heaven to remember the greatest ingratitude—Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-21).
And by contrast,
- Gratitude allows us to receive grace, because we know we are not entitled to it. The prodigal received all the things he wanted in the world as soon as he got home—fancy clothes, shoes, a celebration. Gratitude keeps the blessings flowing and they don’t stop with one miracle like they did for the nine who kept walking.
- Gratitude connects us with the people for whom we show gratitude. When my wife recently expressed gratitude for my care to her parents, it drew our hearts even closer together. Ingratitude separated the nine from Jesus, as they walked on. How foolish! The grateful one got close.
- Gratitude and generosity are siblings. Where you see one, expect to see the other (2 Cor. 9:11). Stay close to Jesus–and get good at gratitude!