Anglican Morning Devotion for 5 September 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Worldwide Communion
“Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” (LUKE 17:17-18; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
There are two signal qualities that define two very different classes of personal character. The first is the property of GRATITUDE. The second is the failure in character known as the spirit of INGRATITUDE.
In the Gospel lectionary text for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, we have both starkly contrasted in the account of the Ten Lepers who hailed Christ with loud voices from a distance. A leper was not permitted to approach non-lepers in close quarters – they were required to stand a great distance away and proclaim their diseased condition. Moreover, their bodies were covered with the signs of fleshly degeneration as the disease slowly claimed every part of the body in ruination and coming death.
The Lord, according to His compassionate nature under every circumstance, had mercy on the ten and healed them of that debilitating and deadly disease. He heals all who call upon Him of the deadly disease coursing through their vessels called SIN.
The lepers discovered that they were immediately healed at the words of Christ, but one stopped to consider the enormity of the blessing and his own duty to express his appreciation and gratitude. The other nine had gotten exactly what they came for and forgot about the Lord who had so blessed them. The nine continued to run to the priest to declare them clean. But that one leper remembered the Lord. He was overcome with gratitude at the miracle the Lord had wrought for him. Before he did anything else, he must go and return thanks to the One who had healed him. “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.” (Luke 17:15-16)
Notice that the scripture very pointedly tell us that this only returning leper was a SAMARITAN. Why? I believe God wants us to know that, unlike the Jews of that day who reviled the Samaritan race of people, God judges all by the heart and not the race. “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (vs 17). Jesus acknowledges the gratitude of this one Samaritan who returned, but He also acknowledges the ingratitude of the nine who offered no word or gesture of thanks. “there are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” (vs 18) There was something different about this stranger (Samaritan). It may be compared to many churches in which only one is sincere in his worship of God and the remainder simply participators for other reasons.
There is a great blessing in the response of our Lord to the one grateful Samaritan! “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (vs 19) Did the Lord not heal all ten lepers at the same time? Yes! He did! So what was the final difference between the none and the one who returned? The nine received a physical healing, but their hearts were empty of gratitude – they were actually INGRATES! There cared nothing for the source of their healing – only the benefits of it. But the one lone Samaritan who returned was full of gratitude. He was humble in expressing that gratitude but serious and sincere as well. He worshipped the Lord as he expressed his gratitude.
We may have had friends for which we did many important services and, yet, they never expressed appreciation in thought, word, or deed. Eventually, we no longer felt it reasonable to offer them further grants of assistance. God is of the same turn. He healed the ten physically, but one of the ten He healed both physically and spiritually. His sins were forgiven and He was admitted to the Kingdom of God promised to all who are drawn to repentance and salvation.
Gratitude is not subject to the gravity of the world. It is the helium that lifts us higher and higher in the sight of God. But Ingratitude weighs heavy on the shoulders of the sinner and draws him down into the depths of despair and damnation. It is the very metal which is subject to the gravity of the earth in pulling down and down with no hope of rising.