Lu.17:12-14 – As he (Jesus) was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him.  They stood at a distance and called in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity (mercy) on us!”  When he saw them, he said, “Go, 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.  Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.”

Leprosy, in Biblical times, was one of the most dreaded diseases.This disease was unrelenting in the devastation of a person’s body. People with this malady, lived in constant rejection of people, and there was no hope for a cure.  There was no controlling the horrific sight, smell, and pain, as the flesh on the limbs of a person’s body rotted away.  Those suffering with this were required to live away and isolated from everyone else. They had to warn anyone coming near them, by covering their mouths, and shouting “unclean, unclean.”

The emotional pain of being set apart from family, friends, and all social life had to have been devastating.  Imagine their feeling of desperation, their isolation, and being surrounded by others who also had no hope.

Ten men, all experiencing the same loss of hope came to Jesus, with desperation, crying out for mercy.  There was no hope to be found for the horrible death sentence of leprosy.  These suffering men had heard of the miracles performed by Jesus. They knew he was the only one who could possibly provide hope for healing.

In this story, only one leper, of the ten, came back to thank Jesus for healing him. He was a Samaritan, who was despised by the Jew. You would think that all of them would have done the same as this Samaritan, but they didn’t.  Why is that?  There is a myriad of reasons why the nine other lepers did not respond in the same way. We will never know why not. Let’s focus on the one who did respond with deep gratitude.

Gratitude is defined as a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something for what the person has done to help you.  It is an internal feeling and/or consequently, an external act. Gratitude is the opposite of self-centeredness.  Being grateful requires one to realize that he or she is not the only important person in the world.

Embracing gratitude will lead you out of self-pity, which is maybe the greatest self-destructive action a person can fall into. When self-pity occupies the heart, one cannot embrace gratitude.  A person cannot worship God and embrace self-pity at the same time. Self-pity can only see oneself.

Gratitude reflects and remembers the good we have experienced in the past. It also puts past events into perspective.  We survived the trials of the past and can testify about them.  Possessing an attitude of gratitude sets the stage for future blessings because gratitude always points to hope; a bright expectation for tomorrow.

We can spend our life focusing on what is broken in our world. Those thoughts rob us of hope. We might choose to reflect on the goodness of God and His promises.  The choice is ours.  The Apostle Paul said it best in Phil.4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Vs. 8 Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is prue, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.”

Gratitude opens the door to embrace peace. It can overrule anxiety, but we have to allow it to. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.” Col.3:15. Notice Paul said, “let peace rule.”  In other words, it is a choice we make 24/7.

Consider this practice… 1. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for.  Include the people in your life and the things that help you every day.  The tendency of man is to take all those things for granted. 2. Keep the list accessible, i.e. on your cell phone or written somewhere where you will frequently see it.  3. Read it out loud to remind yourself that you are blessed, and you have much to be grateful for.  4. Read it frequently and recite the list to other people.  5. Keep adding to the list.

The condemned leper cried out for pity or mercy.  Jesus has more mercy than we could ever exhaust, because He loves us.  If you have cried out for mercy, and you are needing more, there is no end to His supply.  Mercy assumes the need on the part of him who is to receive it.  Let Jesus assume your need today and be grateful!

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