Grace and Gratitude

Friday, July 24

“Grace deserves gratitude.” The opposite of gratitude is self pity, regret, resentment, revenge—all self-centeredness. Gratitude does not exalt self; non-gratitude does. You will remember the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 that were healed of leprosy. Only one went back to thank Jesus—and Luke points out that he was a Samaritan. The New Testament recounts a number of times when Samaritans were seen in a better light than the Jews, a scathing rebuke of the Jews and the rejection of their Messiah. This account only occurs in Luke, and Luke was probably a Gentile. I wouldn’t call Luke anti-Semitic, but he certainly makes a claim for the universality of Christianity. He was a loyal co-worker of Paul’s in his ministry among the Gentiles. I think many of the Jews of that day—and perhaps today—think they are special in God’s eyes (and they are) and therefore think they deserve grace. That’s the part that’s wrong, as Paul makes very clear in Romans. Getting back to the ten lepers, nine of them did not go back to thank Jesus. I think in view of the fact that Luke noted that one was a Samaritan, we can assume the other nine to be Jews. Were all nine ungrateful? It would be insane to think that any of them were resentful or steeped in self-pity, but they were undoubtedly self centered. But were they converted? I mentioned some time back that Jesus’ miracles resulted in conversion, but I don’t think we can assume that to be universally true. The thousands that were miraculously fed followed Jesus just for that reason—to be fed. In contrast, the Samaritan leper not only showed gratitude; he also showed contrition and I fully believe he was converted. Yes, gratitude follows grace.

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