“As [Jesus] was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity 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.”
On Valentine’s Day, I often bring extra Valentines to school. There are always kids whose families can’t afford to buy Valentines. I will invite those kids to my office and we will work together to pick out valentines for each of their classmates so that they can have something to give during their classroom party later in the day. This year, one student came back to my office during “party time” with a valentine that said, “I love you Miss Sarah.”
It really meant a lot to me. I love all the kids who I worked with that day. I never need or expect anything from the kids. I don’t need or demand their gratitude. I do what I do because I want to do it. I will continue to do this in the years to come no matter what responses I get. So why was the one valentine I received so meaningful? Maybe it was because that child invited me into relationship. The other interactions could be rather transactional from the student’s point of view. I was just a means to an end for some…but not all. For one student, I was a person who cared…and the student decided to care too. They saw me as a person rather than a valentine distribution venue.
It reminded me of the story in Luke 17. It would be easy to read that story in a way that implies that God somehow needs or demands our gratitude… “Or else!” God is certainly deserving of our praise and gratitude but I wonder if God needs it. I wonder if the story isn’t about something more. Maybe it felt like the nine lepers were using Jesus to get what they want, and once they had it they moved on without another thought. Perhaps the virtue of the one leper is that he encountered Christ in the context of a relationship.
I don’t think God has an ego that demands our praise and gratitude. God will still be God and do the things God does without our acknowledgement. But I do think God desires a relationship with us. Maybe our gratitude and praise is one way we say, “yes” to relationship with God.
What is a time when someone expressed gratitude to you? What did that feel like? How did that affect your relationship with the grateful person?
What/who are you grateful for? Have you communicated your gratitude? How might you use your gratitude to invite a deeper relationship with those around you?
We are grateful for the many ways you continue to invite us into deeper relationships.
Thank you for your grace, provision and guidance.
Help us to be mindful of how you are at work in our lives.
Help us to remember to respond with gratitude and praise for the good we receive from you and from our neighbors. Amen