During a Thanksgiving gathering, our speaker presented a thought-provoking insight based on the story of 10 lepers whom Jesus healed.

“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria  and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’

“When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.

“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.

“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’  Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”  Luke 17:11-19 (NIV) 

Our “messenger” pointed out three things in this passage. The men had a need. Jesus’ attentiveness to that need created gratitude in their hearts. Yet only one healed man expressed thanksgiving to Jesus. We learned that gratitude is a feeling while thanksgiving is an action.

I can only imagine the shame these 10 men must have experienced when they approached Jesus and stood at a distance from Him. They’d been ostracized from society, without any love or care. They weren’t sure what would happen. But Jesus saw them and listened to their cries of desperation. On the way to see the priests, as Jesus had instructed, they were cleansed—healed from their dreadful disease.

Surely all 10 of them were grateful for their deliverance. But one returned to praise God in a loud voice so everyone would know that Jesus had indeed taken pity on him and healed him. Then in an act of humility he threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.  Jesus responded with a blessing: “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

At the end of our own gathering, we were challenged to consider what things we are grateful for and ask ourselves if we have put our feeling of gratitude into action yet.  I am grateful for my 97-year-old uncle who loves and encourages me as we go through life without many family members we both miss. Tonight I called to thank him personally—my act of true Thanksgiving.