Were Not Ten Cleansed?

Dear Servants of Jesus-Christ;

May the peace, mercy and grace of God our Father, and of His Son Jesus-Christ, our Lord, be with you. Through God’s Spirit, I trust that I may exhort you to press on and continue to abound in good works, even when the beneficiaries of your good deeds do not express any gratitude toward God.

Luke 17 records such instance, where Jesus, in disappointment asked

Luke 17:17Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?

Let’s take a look at the context.

Luke 17:11-19On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

The response of the nine lepers is, unfortunately, not uncommon of those who receive the mercy and grace of God. They rejoice greatly indeed at the grace they have received, for they see their burden lifted. But their joy does not translate into God receiving any glory. At times, it is the messenger of God who is at fault, as he or she may seek glory for himself. But in the case above, it is the recipient who is not rendering to God what is due to Him. To the servants, this may be discouraging.

We see that Jesus said“Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”. As the perfect messenger of God, Jesus never sought glory for Himself, but for His Father, and by the grace of God, such ingratitude did not deter Him to continue to abound in the good works His Father had commissioned Him to perform.

As we honor Christ by serving others, we should adopt the same attitude. We should share the grace of God freely, while we lament on the reality that many who will receive this grace will not return and glorify God. Their newfound freedom will not translate into a God-honoring life.

We see in verse 15 that the one who returned praised God with a loud voice!

Here is something the servants of the Lord may learn. For it is evident that the leper who returned – as well as the other nine – knew that it was GOD who had extended His mercy to Him through Jesus. We too, we must ensure that the recipients of our good deeds are fully aware that the it is GOD, not us, extending His grace on them.

Here goes the first key to not only protecting ourselves from sinning by robbing God of His glory, but also to giving the recipients everything they need to give God His glory.

But we should refrain – in our desire to see God glorified – from adopting the carrot-and-the-stick approach, whereby we first “force” the needy to hear “the gospel preached” before his or her physical need is met. At best, this often results in hypocrisy, for the recipient knows that unless he publicly praises God first, he will not be freed from his burden.

A servant seeks to please His Master. Many will not return and give God glory, but simply move on and enjoy the grace they have received. We should not be discouraged. We should move forward, ever abounding in good works, for just as we see our Master working, we too, should be working.

May the Lord continue to empower you for the work of His Kingdom.

In Jesus name. AMEN.

Drawing Inferences from Past Blessings

Dear friends;

May the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father, and of His Son, our Lord Jesus-Christ, be with you as you read these lines. Friends, the accounts of the people of Israel – how they repeatedly tempted God – soon after He had saved them from the Egyptians by partying the Red Sea, are recorded to teach us that we should guard our hearts from falling unto unbelief, by constantly drawing inferences from His past work in us.

Indeed, one of our greatest deficiencies is either the unwillingness or inability to draw inferences from – or said another way, to extrapolate – God’s blessings in our lives. We can recognize God’s blessing in a specific situation in our life, but we are either unwilling or unable to deepen our understanding of God and His Character. As a result, we are unable to see past that specific blessing or situation. We are either unwilling or unable to derive from that specific experience, that God will bless us again, again, and again.

We see this happening to Israel. The same people who witnessed the partying of the Red Sea, only 3 days after started to murmur against God because they could not find any water to drink. There God made another miracle by making the water of Marah sweet and then brought them in a place with 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees.

Exodus 15:22-25 [ISV] Then Moses led Israel from the Reed Sea and they went to the desert of Shur. They traveled into the desert for three days and did not find water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water at Marah because it was bitter…24 Then the people complained against Moses: “What are we to drink?” 25 Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, which he threw into the water, and the water became sweet.

Soon after they started to complain about what they should eat, going as far as regretting having left Egypt! This is where God responded with another miracle where He first brought quails, and every morning, He brought Manna for them to eat [Exodus 16:4-35].

Exodus 16:2,3 [ISV] The whole congregation of the Israelis complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert. 3 The Israelis told them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt when we sat by the cooking pots, when we ate bread until we were filled—because you brought us to this desert to kill this entire congregation with hunger.”

We see here the failure of the Israelites to make inferences from each blessing of God. They could not – or were unwilling to – conclude that if God had saved them from the Egyptians, He not only could not, but also would not let them perish in the desert.

In the times when Jesus walked on the earth, we saw the same issue taking place, at multiples times. And Jesus rebuked his disciple for it, addressing this issue as a lack of faith…by failing to understand!

Matthew 16:8-10 [ISV]Knowing this, Jesus asked them, “You who have little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you don’t have any bread? 9 Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected, 10 or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many baskets you collected?

We must do a better job at drawing inferences from God’s blessings. We should see them beyond their immediate context and see in them opportunities to better understand God’s ways. This is yet another mechanism by which our faith grows. When we face a new situation, regardless of whether we have faced something similar in the past or not, we should a better job at inferring that if God blessed us in the past, then He will do it again. We should not fall unto unbelief.

Reading how God responded to the Israelites back in Exodus, or how Jesus addressed His disciples in Matthew, it is clear that God knows that we are capable of such exercise for He is the one who has created us, as intelligent beings, and beings who can choose to hear Him, and therefore be strong in faith.

Do not be doubtful dear friend in the face of your calamity. Learn to draw inferences from God’s blessings! Be strong in faith.

In Jesus name. AMEN.