One in Ten

Published on Nov 23rd, 2016 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0
One in Ten

One in Ten I believe it was John Piper who coined the phrase “sober joy”. That phrase truly describes how I often feel when I meditate on who God is. At times, when the Spirit reveals to me the character of God, I am often at a loss for words. My own sinfulness and failures cause me to move away from his goodness and yet his love draws me back into his loving arms. I am full of joy but tremendously sobered by who he is. This happened this morning again. I came into my office to finish my study on Luke 17 and the parable of the ten lepers. Jesus was moved with compassion as ten lepers asked to be healed. Jesus, following the law of the day, told them to go show themselves to the priests. As they went, they were healed. Nine lepers continued on to the priests. I believe they thought that their obedience is what had healed them and so they needed to continue to be obedient. One leper knew it was Jesus who healed him and he came back to give praise to Jesus and to receive spiritual healing. My thoughts on the passage were going to follow those lines. We, too often believe that it is our actions of obedience that bring healing or blessing and we fail to recognize that these things really come from God. That attitude is seen in our lack of giving thanks to him. What that results in is a life of pressure and pushing as we must continually be more and more obedient to receive the blessings that we desire. We spend less and less time looking at the Savior and more and more time striving to be better. We must always remember that all things come from Jesus and therefore our greatest task should be to worship him. As I sat down to refine those thoughts for our service tonight I took a minute to pray. As I was praying I was once again overwhelmed by the goodness of God. One in ten. That is a horrible percentage. These men had no hope in their lives. They were isolated from their family. They had no way of making a living. They were infected with a progressive, incurable disease. The only thing they could do was to cry out to Jesus. When they did that he heard their cry and healed them and the first thought of nine of them was that their own actions had healed them. Only one recognized the miraculous work of Jesus in his life. Jesus did inquire about the other nine but my heart was overwhelmed by the holy patience and mercy of God. Certainly this parable demonstrates to us the power of God over sin and disease but it also shouts to us how awful we treat God and how long suffering he is with us. I know how impatient I am with those who refuse to show gratitude for the kindnesses I show them. I let someone cut into my lane in traffic and when no wave of gratitude comes I am quick to sarcastically yell out, “You are welcome”. When I go out of my way to help and no words of thanks come I find that my heart wants to harden and respond with being stingy with my kindness. Jesus was not like that. He recognized the ingratitude of the majority and yet he still went to the cross on their behalf. His love and patience with those who called for his death when he was offering them life is so different than our hearts that we cannot help but be overwhelmed by it. I want to believe that I can look at my heart and say that I not one of the nine. I know what Jesus has done in my life. He has cleansed me from my sin and made me whole. I have sat at his feet and given thanks to him for the work he has accomplished in me. But I wonder if I recognize as readily the continued work of Jesus in my life? When Jesus saved me at age 7 it was just the beginning of his work in me. Through the ministry of the Spirit he has kept me, molded me into his image, showered me with blessings, and shown me great and mighty things in his Word. As I look at my attitude of gratitude each day I find that I act more like the nine than I do like the one. I have often reduced my praise and thanks to a line or two in a prayer. I am more anxious to cry out about the things that I believe I need or want. I walk in obedience and God blesses me and if I say thanks at all, I say thanks for the ability to accomplish what I just did. Hardly any recognition that it was all from him. And God still walks with me with patience. His mercies in my life are new every morning. He does not accept my ingratitude but he continues to mold me into his image so that I learn to be more grateful as I recognize just how amazing he is. May I learn to express my gratitude for his work in me every day. May I be more like the one and less like the nine.

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