“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 17:15-19 NIV

Working in the service industry, healthcare industry or ministry can be a thankless experience at times. People come in absorbed in their own pain and predicament and they want you to fix it. Sometimes the one serving even gets misplaced aggression and frustration as they are trying to help the person. What’s most disconcerting is when you actually help someone and they don’t even come back to say, “Thank you!”

I think it’s just the way I was raised. My expectation is that when somebody does something for you that you open your mouth to acknowledge the gesture of kindness by saying, “Thank you!”

Jesus healed 10 lepers one day by telling them to go show themselves to the priest. As they were going they were healed. Only one of them came back to say thanks and he was an outsider. Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other, but because they all had leprosy, social class and race didn’t matter. But what is contrasting is that a Samaritan came back to tell a Jewish Rabbi, “Thank you!”

Why didn’t the other nine come back to say “Thank you?” I got nine reasons:

  1. A sense of entitlement. They thought that since they were Jewish that Jesus being a Jewish rabbi was obligated to heal them. Sometimes our racial privileges make us feel entitled to have other people do something for us without saying, “Thank you!”
  2. They were eager to get back to religion and ran away from a relationship with Jesus. A miracle just happened and they kept running to go show the priest. We need to be careful of running back to a “showy” religion.
  3. They got caught up in “group think.” Sometimes we are so caught up in what the group thinks that we don’t take the time to be appreciative of the miraculous.
  4. They were so busy running that they didn’t take the time to notice that they were healed. We need to be more attentive and appreciative of gradual change.
  5. Their relationship with Jesus was merely transactional. When some people get what they want they don’t want to have anything else to do with you.
  6. They were healed physically but not spiritually. This Samaritan came back and worshipped Jesus. People can’t be grateful if their heart hasn’t been changed.
  7. They made Jesus common. To the majority he was just a man that did something miraculous. They had no connection with him and didn’t feel obligated to go back.
  8. Being ostracized for so long had made their hearts hard. When people have ignored you and locked you out for so long you lose sensitivity for how to be grateful.
  9. They weren’t supposed to. In the scripture above this story Jesus tells his disciples that they shouldn’t expect to get any pats on the back when they do what a servant is supposed to do. Jesus was trying to show them that ministry is a thankless job and it doesn’t matter if some don’t say thanks as long as God gets the glory. God saw what you did and he will reward you even if nobody comes back to say, “Thank you!”

Dear God,

Thank you for healing me from the inside out. Everything I’ve accomplished in life is because Jesus healed me. I would’ve still been ostracized had Jesus not have healed me. I owe you my life! Help me not to take it personal when people don’t say “Thank you.” Everything I do is because you did it for me and I can never repay you for what you’ve done for me, and I will serve you for the rest of my life even if they never say, “Thank you!”

In Jesus’ Name,