The Absence of Thanks

November 23, 2017
“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 17:15-16 (NIV)
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It was a typical scene at a kids’ birthday party.

Boys and girls lined up for food and brought their plates to the table to eat. There was nothing really wrong with that. One child looked up from his full plate and said, “Thank you” to the adult serving the meal.

Thank you.

I challenge you to think of two more beautiful words.

That was one well-mannered, grateful and considerate child.

It’s easy to breeze through life without stopping to say thank you. Whether you’re facing a clerk at the store, a bus driver, restaurant employee or family member, we can move on quickly instead of pausing to give thanks.

Apparently people moved along quickly in ancient times, too.

The story behind our key verse is only recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, and as He entered a certain village, ten men who had leprosy standing far away called upon Him for mercy. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. The priest was the one who could issue a life-giving paper, a certificate of release indicating they were disease-free, and therefore allowed to return to their homes and public life once again.

Jesus didn’t heal the men on the spot. They were healed on the way. As they followed and obeyed Jesus’ orders, they were healed of their leprosy. Imagine their disbelief and joy as they saw their skin repair itself and look like new again. That was impossible apart from God’s power!

One of these 10 returned and thanked Jesus: “when he saw he was healed, [he] came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:15-16).

Jesus completely, supernaturally, wonderfully changed 10 lives … but only one person came back to say thank you.

Ten people had the same experience, but one responded differently than the rest.

“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17-18, NIV).

Do you hear the surprise and disappointment in these questions? The nine Jewish men kept their blessings to enjoy but didn’t return to acknowledge the giver. The most unlikely to return — the Samaritan who knew the least about God — was the one to receive not only a physical healing, but a spiritual one.

Jesus said to him in verse 19, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” The power of God cleansed him outwardly in his body as he went in obedience, then cleansed him inwardly from sin when he returned to give thanks.

He would have missed out on that blessing if he hadn’t returned to thank Jesus. Gratitude paved the way for a double blessing — healing for the body and restoration for the soul.

Today, gratitude still paves the way to blessing in both body and soul.

It’s easy to look down on the nine Jewish men who didn’t bother to say thank you. But maybe you and I would have done the same thing. Maybe they were so excited about being healed and getting that certificate of release, and seeing their wives and children again that they could hardly wait to go home! After all, if they traveled back to Jesus, maybe Jesus wouldn’t be there anymore so why bother with the trip?

Yet the trip to thank Jesus wasn’t only the appropriate response; it would have been a journey to unbelievable wholeness for those nine Jewish men.

As we celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving in the United States, let us all learn from these 10 men and the little boy at the birthday party. Although it may take some effort, it’s always best to pause … and say thank you.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for not saying “Thank You.” I repent of focusing on the things I don’t have, instead of the blessings You have given me. I want to be like the one who returned to express gratitude. Thank You for saving me, forgiving me and providing for my needs each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


1 Chronicles 29:12-13, “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” (NIV)

Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (NASB)


Gratitude is something we want our children and grandchildren to practice. Arlene Pellicane writes about appreciation in her book co-authored with Gary Chapman, Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World.

It's the people in your life who can make you feel right at home during the holidays. Whether you're with your family or you feel lonely in a new town this season, our new holiday products will help you spend meaningful time with the people God has placed in your life throughout the year. Click here to learn more and shop our holiday products!


Find five ways to cultivate a thankful heart in your child today when you stop by Arlene’s website.


Do you identify more with the one who returned to say thanks, or the nine who moved on with their day? Would those who know you best describe you as a grateful person?

© 2017 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.

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