October 10, 2010
Luke 17:11-19

My children recently took a set of standardized tests for their grade levels. After failing to understand the results, I spent some time online researching standardized testing. I was amazed at how many tests there are for measuring so many things. You can measure personality types (to include birth order tendencies), handwriting traits, critical thinking skills and a plethora of skill set evaluations. There is also a test for the tests!

Perhaps we should introduce a series of tests for assessing a believer’s progress. Tithing, church attendance and Scripture memorization would be easy to measure; but what about the inner traits believers are supposed to have? How do you measure joy, peace and contentment?

I found a wonderful name for a test to measure thankfulness. Warren Wiersbe in his inimitable way asks believers to evaluate their “G.Q.” No, not Gentlemen’s Quarterly, but “Gratitude Quotient.”

Our passage today helps us assess our gratitude as it points out certain characteristics essential in developing an attitude of gratitude. These lepers help us see ourselves and where we are on the “G.Q.” ladder. The take-home principle in this story is: Gratitude to Jesus deepens as our awareness of spiritual estrangement becomes personal. Three key words unfold the story of the Grateful Leper.

Recognition. (Luke 17:12)
We never will develop a heart of gratitude until we first recognize our natural standing before Christ. The Levitical code required these lepers to separate themselves from those not infected by the disease (Leviticus 13:45). Compounded this, they realized they most definitely were unfit to stand before the Lord of glory. Interestingly, it was a multi-cultural band of beleaguered misfits, thus reinforcing the biblical declaration that all equal before God with no exceptions for race.

Has it ever crossed your mind that you are unfit to stand before Jesus? We are born with spiritual leprosy no matter our financial or political standing. The best of our goodness clothes us no better than the torn, leprosy-infected rags worn by these 10 men. The great truth that flies in the face of humanism is that we are spiritually bankrupt with no birthright for special status. Until you establish an authentic recognition of your spiritual condition, you cannot internalize genuine godly gratitude.

Submission (Luke 17:13)
Submission to Jesus is an essential ingredient for godly gratitude. In fact, gratitude is being able to place yourself joyfully under His authority, knowing that His sovereign will is a greater pursuit than any self-gratitfication.

At first glance, the cry that comes from the lips of these lepers seems like the one offered by blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:48). However, a closer reading reveals a great distinction. Bartimaeus appealed to the messianic office of Christ. These lepers called Him “Master,” which would be better translated as “Commander.” They intuitively knew He was more than a teacher (or they would have said “Rabbi”), and more than a servant (or they would have said “Son of Man”). They appealed to His authority and their obedient actions to His command reveal they were most willing to be in submission to Him.

Are you? In our individualistic, self-serving world, are you willing to admit you are not the master of your own destiny or the captain of your own ship? No belief in the American Dream or acceptance of the power of positive thinking can negate the brutal fact that God is God and we are not. We can sing “My Way” until our lungs collapse, but it will not steal God’s sovereign rule over our lives. So, make it easy on yourself; willingly enter into submission to His Lordship. That brings peace, which spawns gratitude.

Conversion (Luke 17:19)
The truest gratitude comes from an unquenchable awe at God’s gift of salvation. We have sung “Amazing Grace” so often that we’ve lost our amazement at that grace. One leper upon realizing he was healed immediately turned back to praise and thank Jesus. In fact, he was quite demonstrative. He shouted and fell prostrate.

Conversion came when he turned back to Jesus. Christ’s pronounced him well. He was not talking about physical health, but spiritual cleanliness. His response could be translated “Your faith has saved you” (Luke 17:19). Though it was the third link in this gratitude chain, it was certainly the most important. The other nine lepers were submissive to Jesus’ authority, but unmoved by His saving grace. That becomes the great trap for religionists and sign seekers. They have recognition of their standing before God and submission to Him as the authority; but they have not made the faith leap to offer their lives totally to Him as an act of worship.
Have you? Have you measured your gratitude? The one standardized test for measuring is whether your faith has led you through recognition and submission, culminating in conversion. A converted soul will produce a grateful leper.

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