Story of a thank­ful leper

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

Ten lep­ers cried to Je­sus for cleansing. All ten were cleansed yet only one leper came back to give thanks. Je­sus asked “Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” The query of Je­sus about the other nine cleansed lep­ers is a spir­i­tual mine. It is an in­vi­ta­tion to dig deeper and dis­cover the heart of God. The query is not about know­ing their ex­act lo­ca­tion nor was it a state­ment that stirs guilt. Tested and proven ... mak­ing peo­ple feel guilty make them do what you want. This was not Je­sus’ cup of tea. What then was the ques­tion all about? I have two things criss­cross­ing my mind. First, to re­veal God’s heart ... the Lord is hon­ored when we give thanks. As Bren­nan Man­ning would say, the “high­est form of giv­ing is thanks­giv­ing” and to this I add – the most au­then­tic way of liv­ing is thanks liv­ing. Next, thanks­giv­ing, to be au­then­tic, can­not be forced. Dr. Les Hill wrote “any­thing forced can­not pro­duce faith”. Je­sus, in a unique dis­play of pow­er­less­ness and in a ra­di­ant dis­play of grace, mod­eled God’s re­spect for hu­man free­dom. The Master chose to cleanse all ten lep­ers but did not de­mand a thank­ful heart.

His query, to me, sends a mes­sage of grace and truth. Do not miss this ... what is re­mark­able in this story is the re­sponse of the Sa­mar­i­tan leper ... yes, an em­pha­sis on the word “Sa­mar­i­tan” be­cause they were the marginal­ized one in the time of Christ ... an os­tra­cized half-breed com­pared to the “pure” blooded Jews. Yet, this Sa­mar­i­tan ex­pressed a gen­uine faith that led him to shout out his thanks ... face bowed down to the ground giv­ing thanks! By the way, while ten were cleansed, only this Sa­mar­i­tan leper re­ceived the unique pro­nounce­ment from the Lord “Your faith has made you well”. It is not re­ally hard to be­lieve that only the skin was cleansed ... I think his heart, too, was made clean.

There are more lessons we can learn from the re­turnee. No­tice his bold­ness to pub­licly give thanks ... his praise and his pos­ture re­vealed his heart. When it comes to the ques­tion di­rectly ad­dressed to him by Je­sus “where are the nine?” he was mys­te­ri­ously silent ... a very humbling still­ness of the mouth. No com­ment about the oth­ers. I think Christ wanted to high­light his at­ti­tude and his grat­i­tude. Here, the story paints him as the hero of Thanks­giv­ing, his si­lence re­gard­ing the other lep­ers was an au­then­tic ev­i­dence of a trans­formed heart on top of a cleansed skin. Read on, his re­sponse to me is a sign of a truly thank­ful heart that hon­ors God. Thanks­giv­ing hum­bles the thank­ful. I have 5 signs I see from this leper which proves his gen­uine heart. Be­fore writ­ing the signs, let me give cau­tion, these signs should be ap­plied to you and not as tools to inspect other peo­ple. Do we have a deal? Here we go:

· No com­par­i­son, more praise · No com­pe­ti­tion, more space · No com­plaints, more af­fir­ma­tion · No con­trol­ling, more re­leas­ing · No more un­nec­es­sary cor­rec­tion, more grace.

In the case of the Sa­mar­i­tan leper the word NO is ac­cu­rate. In our case, maybe we can set­tle for the word “less” as we take prac­ti­cal baby steps to­wards an au­then­tic ‘Thanks­giv­ing’. So, Lord help us to lessen com­par­i­son, in­crease praise; lessen com­pe­ti­tion, in­crease space for oth­ers; lessen com­plaints in­crease af­fir­ma­tion; less con­trol­ling, to be more re­laxed and re­leas­ing; lessen cor­rec­tion, more tol­er­ance and grace. As we en­ter the sea­son of Christ­mas, do not for­get to join the many other lep­ers who are now mem­bers of the com­mu­nity of the re­deemed, let us all give thanks. So, when the Master asks where the oth­ers are, we can all say ... we are all here, Lord!

Thanks for read­ing, now, pause for a while and ut­ter a sin­cere prayer of thanks. I am learn­ing to give thanks the Sa­mar­i­tan leper’s way. I write straight from a thank­ful heart. Thanks for read­ing.

“NOW, one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glo­ri­fy­ing God with a loud voice. And he fell on his face at His feet, giv­ing thanks to Him. Then Je­sus an­swered and said “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine---where are they? Was no one found who re­turned to give glory to God, ex­cept this for­eigner?” And He said “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” - Luke 17: 15-19 NASB

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