Why do some people show gratitude, while others don’t? We’ve probably all been thankful for something, and we’ve probably all experienced a lack of thankfulness, even when it was merited. There’s no formula for appropriate gratitude, but A.A. Milne was pretty close when he said, “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” Perhaps this story about thankfulness can help us as well.
“As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood in the distance and cried out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them he said, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 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 17:12-16, NIV)
A Surprising Story
Ten lepers, who were outcast and marginalized men who could not mix with healthy people, were out on the outskirts of a village. They asked Jesus for mercy, and he gave them instructions that would both heal them and prepare them for reentry into everyday life. Once the priests saw they were free from leprosy, they could once again mingle with friends and family, hug their kids, and have a chance to live normal lives.
“Doctor” Luke points out that only the unclean and socially unacceptable Samaritan gave credit to God for his healing. The nine other formerly leprous men went on their way, probably too excited about going back to society to stop and say thank you. It may be that they felt entitled somehow, finally getting what they deserved after years of presumable injustice. It certainly is surprising that there wasn’t more gratitude expressed, but people can be a little self-absorbed…
So What Do We Make of This?
Two things here: Not everyone who meets Jesus is grateful, even when they experience healing because of Him. Sometimes we get so busy living our lives or even going to church that we forget how much we have to be grateful for. (How about this: DON’T FORGET! Regardless of where we are in life, it is good to have an attitude of gratitude!)
Secondly, some of the people you help along the way will not thank you for it. Jesus healed all ten, even though he was aware of their heart attitudes before he acted. Gratitude doesn’t always manifest itself the way we think it should, but remember: we shouldn’t do good just so that someone says, “Thank you”.
Our motivation for helping others is often wrong. We do good things in order to receive recognition, or to feel good about ourselves. Paul said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
Like Paul, we should perform acts of kindness for the Lord’s sake, not for men’s approval. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” In the Sermon on the Mount, he taught that our devotion to God should not be a matter of public pride, but something best kept between Him and us. Matthew 6:4, 6 and 18 all point to the same outcome: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Acts of kindness should be done for our Father with an expectation of gratitude, or regard for human response. Go out and commit some today.
People are amazing. Sometimes, helping them exposes
That some will offer thanks, while others just turn up their noses…
Some will smile with thankfulness that bubbles up inside,
While others turn aside, from their entitlement, or pride–
No thank-you cards are tried, and gratitude is just denied!
I pray that I may never be the one with such an attitude–
For health, for all I see, Lord, help me show you gratitude!
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