But Where Are the Nine?
by Tom Stewart
July 27, 2000
One of the first visible signs that a Christian has backslid
from his "First Love" (Revelation 2:4), i.e., fallen away from the LORD
Jesus Christ, is that the "backslider
in heart" (Proverbs 14:14) is again
full of his old, unconverted, selfish ways; namely, the Backslider is ungrateful
to God and man. "Because that,
when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful;
but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Romans 1:21). Christ's healing of the ten lepers
illustrates the Sin of Ingratitude. "12 And as [Jesus] entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that
were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy
on us. 14 And when He
saw them, He said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to
pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned
back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks:
and he was a Samaritan. 17 And
Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found
that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19
And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy
faith hath made thee whole" (Luke 17:12-19).
Jesus encountered ten lepers, who begged for mercy from the Messiah to heal them. "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us" (Luke 17:13). They said the right things; and just so, when we first came to Christ, we said the right things, i.e., "God be merciful to me a sinner" (18:13). Even though the Omniscient Son of God knew that we would later backslide, He forgave us, just as He cleansed the lepers. "And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed" (17:14). But, the part of the story that shows us that even the Son of God expects to be thanked for His mercy and grace, is where one of the cleansed lepers, a Samaritan, returned to glorify and thank the LORD Jesus. "15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan" (17:15-16). "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1Thessalonians 5:18). "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23). Jesus immediately exclaimed, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" (17:17). "Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
We may blame the Nine Ungrateful Lepers for their neglect in thanking the LORD for their healing; but, are we any different from them when we demonstrate gross ingratitude for the many kindnesses demonstrated to us by those whom God has sent our way? "45 Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me. 46 And these shall go away into Everlasting Punishment: but the Righteous into Life Eternal" (Matthew 25:45-46). Just as we are pleased to hear a "Thank you", the LORD Jesus has made us eternally indebted to Him for the "Great Love wherewith He loved us" (Ephesians 2:4). If we desire to continue our Love Relationship with Jesus, our Heavenly Bridegroom, i.e., "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh" (Matthew 25:6), then we ought to cultivate a continual atmosphere of worship and thanksgiving for all the blessings that have flowed from Him, i.e., "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). "18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints, 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all Saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the Unsearchable Riches of Christ" (Ephesians 1:18; 3:8).
If we cannot demonstrate gratitude and thankfulness for the kind acts of people that God has sent our way, then how can we claim to be grateful to the LORD Jesus Christ for saving us? "4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour" (Titus 3:4-6). The Apostle John was inspired to show by comparison the ridiculousness of anyone, who would claim to love God, while hating his brother. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God Whom he hath not seen?" (1John 4:20). Just as we can tell that a man does not love God, when he despises his brother; we can see that a man is not grateful to God, when he demonstrates gross ingratitude to his neighbour. "And He answering said, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke 10:27).
Remember to thank God for all things at all times. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name" (Hebrews 13:15). And, let us "be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love" (Romans 12:10) for the small kindnesses that have been shown to us by others. "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). Our gratitude to God will be seen in our obedience as well as in our praise. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His Commandments" (1John 5:2).
LORD, ever make us to "walk in Thy Truth" (Psalm 86:11), that we, like the Psalmist, whose heart stood "in awe of Thy Word" (119:161), may always walk in gratitude to Thee, and would never by our lips walk in hypocrisy, by demonstrating ingratitude to those whom Thou hast brought our way.
Amen, and Amen.
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