Kids are professionals at it. Really. Without practice, they can put on the pout that stops the world. They didn’t get what they wanted and everyone is about to know it. Actually, adults are not much different. We may not put our bottom lip out, but we pout with the best pre-schooler. Our conclusion is that we are deserving. This often bleeds into a lack of thankfulness and expressing thanks when someone does something for us. There are moments that our failure is due to distractions or chaos, while at other times there is nothing to blame but our ice-cold heart. No matter the reason, it is always ugly. The struggle of gratefulness is not new.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us…
This intriguing story in the book of Luke reveals the tale of ten men experiencing the same terrible dilemma. They had leprosy. There is not a more dreaded experience in the days of Jesus than leprosy. This disease would slowly and painfully rot the flesh of a victim until their limbs would fall off. One finger, one arm, one foot at a time. Being a communicable disease made the experience more dreaded. Lepers find themselves condemned to their prison city away from normal life. It is a lonely experience. Friends are few and when you walk into a room, the room would empty. Enter Jesus. With a word, the world of these lepers went from gray to full color. Healed.
“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.”
“He was a Samaritan”. Interesting fact that Luke adds to the story. With a casual reading, we would brush over this tidbit. Going a little slower, we realize that God is giving us a life-long lesson in one phrase. The only rescued leper to thank God for healing him was a Samaritan unbeliever. Were the other nine Jews? Did they all see themselves as deserving of their rescue from a life of seclusion and an agonizing march toward death?
Entitlement. A dreaded disease. It can destroy us spiritually as much as leprosy can physically. A voice deep within convinces us that we are deserving and we have a right to wholeness, happiness, family, freedom, security, friendships and acceptance. There is a seed of entitlement in each of us. We sense that we are worthy. Deserving. I get what I get because of who I am and what I have done. The lesson in this story should awaken us all.
One leper was different. He realized that his new lease on life was a gift of grace and he overflowed with thankfulness. Alone again, this time by choice, he made his way back to the Healer. “Thank you”.
There is a seed of entitlement in each of us. We sense that we are worthy.
We find ourselves intrigued with the one leper returning with gratefulness. Jesus stood stunned by the nine who went on with life with no time to offer a heartfelt “Thanks” (Luke 17:17-19). Rather than categorizing the pattern of our whole life as being more like the ONE leper or the NINE, we should check our individual days.
- How grateful was I yesterday?
- How grateful was I this morning?
- How grateful was I a moment ago?
- How grateful am I right now?
We can develop thankfulness over time in small decisions as we live each day. Consider TWO simple concepts:
1. Recognize how much you actually have. Write it in a journal or digital notepad all that you have. Start with the big and work to the smaller. Everything. Go ahead. This is no time for generic churchy talk like, “God has blessed me”. Yes! But how?
2. Be more aware of the people around you. Appreciate relationships. Appreciate acts of kindness. Then take it step further and let people know. And by the way, you might consider putting down the phone and “being all there when you are there”.
The whispers of entitlement grow louder and more convincing the longer you put up with their constant chirping. Silence them. Remember, only those who grasp how undeserving they are can fully appreciate each small blessing God honors them with.