“The Antidote for the 'Thank You'”
“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.”
— Luke 17:15-16
So what did that leper actually do? He gave thanks, right? That’s how the story goes and we’ve heard it over and over again. All ten lepers begged Jesus for help and all ten did what Jesus told them to do: they ran off to show themselves to the priests—their hope was Jesus would heal them on the way. You know what happened: one leper came back, and we all know why he came back. He came back to say thank you. And ever since St. Luke told this story and ever since Christians have been hearing it, that leper has kind of set the standard for what Christians do when God does awesome things.
But, brothers and sisters, we need to be careful that we don’t fall into the “thank you” trap. The Lord Jesus is looking for a lot more from his people of faith—and that’s what we are: we’re believers who put our trust in Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with saying thank you—and in fact we’d be remiss if we didn’t say it—but saying thank you doesn’t necessarily lead us to realize just how undeserved God’s blessings really are. We begin to take things for granted; worse yet, we think we’re entitled. Or we play a game with God: “I’ll be good to you as long you’re good to me.” That’s why it’s so important for us to repent, and I mean everyday in some way. When we repent we’re admitting that God doesn’t really owe us anything except for hell. When we repent we turn our eyes away from the sins we sometimes love and place our eyes on the one who loves us more than we can understand. When we turn and look to Jesus we begin to recall all the things and all the people we chased after in our lives that Jesus didn’t want us to chase after. You know what else we recall? We remember that in the long run none of these things and people did us an ounce of good.
Come to church, go to Bible Class, open your Bibles, review your own personal story—I don’t mean once in while; I mean as often as you can. Think about all the blessings God has given you. My list isn’t going to look exactly like yours—but here’s a start: recall how God created you to have such a magnificent body and mind and how you haven’t been starving in a long time; recall how Jesus went to the cross with your sins on his back and then rose again so you would never have to wonder about your eternal future. Recall how the Holy Spirit led you to believe in Jesus—that’s an awesome miracle all by itself—and how he keeps you believing when so many people you know don’t have a clue. Take some time to consider all of the comfort and hope that you have because of the many promises that God gives to you in his Word.
If you and I take a minute every day to repent, to honestly assess the wrongs we’ve done and the good things we haven’t done, if we take some time everyday to recall and remember and rejoice in what Jesus has done for us our entire life, if we repent and recall, it’s going to happen. When his law leads us to repent of our sins and his gospel allows us to recall his great love, we become determined to love him and love one another, we become committed to follow him wherever he leads, we become devoted to sharing his message with the world.