In Luke 17:11-19, we find an incident in the life of Jesus that is at once both joyous and sad. As Jesus was traveling toward Jerusalem, he passed through some of the cities and villages of Samaria and Galilee to the north. As he entered one village a group of lepers, 10 of them in all, saw Jesus and called out for him to heal them. They did not come near him, for they were inflicted with a terrible disease, which evidently was in its advanced stages. The Master saw them, and having compassion on them, told them to go and show themselves to the priests, as was the practice for someone who had been cleansed of the malady.
As they were going, the Bible says that they were cleansed. What a joyous occasion this was for these men. Moments before they had been among the outcasts of society, not even able to approach normal people, but forced to live lives of isolation.
Not only that, but leprosy is a terrible disease which eats away the body, producing huge, ugly sores, and causing parts of the body to drop off after a time. So when they found themselves cleansed miraculously by Jesus, it was indeed a time for rejoicing.
But, as it turned out, it was also a time for sadness and reflection, for only one of them felt a compulsion to turn back and give thanks to God and Christ for his cleansing. Only one out of 10. How shocking, that the other nine could be so ungrateful. Jesus was amazed, and asked, "Were there not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine?" Yes, the others were certainly guilty of the sin ingratitude.
Despite God’s goodness to them, the people of Israel were guilty of the sin of ingratitude and showed it by going back into sin. Even though God had patience with them over the years, they were guilty. Saul, the king of Israel, was ungrateful to God. Cain was ungrateful to God when he disobeyed him concerning the kind of sacrifice he was to offer. Even the prophet Jonah was guilty of ingratitude when he refused to go and preach to the city of Nineveh. Many more examples are evident, and we shake our heads, and mutter, “My, my!”
But let us not be so quick to cast stones at those guilty of the sin of ingratitude, as distasteful as it is. For, are we not guilty also?
Husbands, are we not guilty of ingratitude toward our wives when we treat them in an unkind fashion for some silly, trivial reason? Just think of how they have helped us in so many ways, yet we are quick to forget that when they step out of line. Wives, are you guilty of the same thing sometimes, when you forget the way that the husband works hard for you, and lash out at him just because he is unthoughtful occasionally? And are not children guilty of being ungrateful toward their parents? Just use yourself as an example. Don’t you wish many times that you could erase some of the ways you treated your parents when you were at home? Then it may have seemed as if they were about the most ignorant of all people, but now you can see that they were usually right about most things. Yes, we are often guilty of ingratitude, even today.
I hope we will be more prone to stop and give thanks for the things God has given us, rather than simply going our way, enjoying them in our ingratitude. Let us say with the Psalmist, "O give thanks unto the Lord, is he good; for his mercy endureth forever."