The Absence of Appreciation

Bible Book: Luke  17 : 11-19
Subject: Thanksgiving; Appreciation; Gratitude; Joy

I am sure you already had it marked on your calendar, but just in case, did you know that Monday, September 22nd is National Thank You Day? National Thank You Day is the brainchild of a   chocolate company and the Emily Post Institute, and was created to “encourage people to remember and recognize the everyday acts of kindness that are shown to them.” The holiday was inspired by a survey that found that 87% of Americans said they are bothered when people don’t say “thank you”, and 90% of Americans feel that they don’t say “thank you” enough.

Unfortunately, gratitude is a grace that too many possess too little of. We don’t say “thank you” enough, and that absence of appreciation is sad, and according to the Word of God, it is wrong as well.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” To not be thankful and to fail to show appreciation is to disobey the will of God for your life.

In Luke 17, we find a story that deals with the absence of appreciation. On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus encountered a gang of ten men, all suffering from the disease of leprosy. In response to their cries for help, Jesus miraculously cleanses them of their malady. This wonderful story of restoration and healing ends on a sad note, however, as only one of the ten returns to offer his thanks to Jesus.

When the Lord sees the lone worshiper returning, He asks this question, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?”

As we study this story, we are challenged to be one of the ones who remember to give God thanks and praise for what He has done in our lives.

There are three truths we draw from this story. Notice with me first of all, this is a story of:

I. A Gracious Miracle

Look at our text, and notice verse 14. It says, “…And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.”

Notice those three words, “they were cleansed”. In His usual, clinical fashion, Luke uses those three short words to describe what was nothing short of a marvelous, astonishing, miraculous work of God.

At one moment, the bodies of ten men rotted and eroded away as a leprous death approached by inches. The next moment, someone’s son, and someone’s husband; a neighbor, a friend, and a dad headed home as new men, with healed flesh and restored life.

When you read the Bible, don’t let the number of Christ’s miracles devalue their wonder. What He does for people is amazing and miraculous.

Notice with me a couple of things about this gracious miracle. Think with me first of all about:

A. What This Miracle Required

Sometimes Christ healed with His touch. At other times, He healed through His Word. In the case of these ten lepers, we are not told the exact agent of this cleansing miracle, and yet we can tell a couple of the components that went into it.

We know, first of all, this miracle required the favor of God. Jesus was in no way obligated to answer the cries these ten tainted men.

For Him to respond in any way to their cries was an act of grace on His part. The Lord showed favor upon these unworthy souls by hearing their cries and healing their corruption.

This miracle required not only the favor of God, but it also required a faith in God. Notice what Jesus said to these lepers in verse 14. He said, “…Go show yourselves unto the priests…”

Normally, a leper wouldn’t go anywhere near a priest until after he had been cleansed. Yet, acting in faith, these ten men started toward the Temple with sores still visible on their bodies.

They believed that before they arrived at the Temple, they would be clean, though their first steps were taken in bodies still rotting to death.

In many ways, all miracles require these two things – the favor of God, and a faith in God. The Lord Jesus does the miraculous by grace, through faith.

Notice something else about this gracious miracle. Notice not only what this miracle required, but think also further about:

B. What This Miracle Represents

The story of this cleansing displays for us some important truths. For instance, in the characters of these lepers, we are reminded of our situation without Christ.

Leprosy is a disease that dramatically portrays sin and its effects. The man suffering from leprosy is separated from everyone by His disease, as it slowly but surely destroys his life.

Likewise, sin separates us from God, and slowly degrades and destroys us until we end up in an eternal hell.

Like the lepers in this story, our only hope was for Jesus to pass by, and hear our cries for mercy. Without Christ, our condition is dire and desperate.

This story not only reminds us of our situation without Christ, but it also portrays our salvation through Christ. The lepers were shown the favor of God, and in faith received their healing.

In much the same way, when Christ comes to the sinner, and hears their cries of faith, in mercy He saves them from their sinful condition.

What I want you to see is that what Christ has done for you is just as miraculous as what He did for these lepers so many years ago.

Ray Stedman once told the story of an alcoholic who had been gloriously converted. Someone questioned his new found faith and said, “You don’t really believe that Jesus did all those miracles, do you; like changing the water into wine?” The former drunk quickly answered, “I sure do, because in our house, Jesus changed the whiskey into furniture.”

In this text we find a story of a gracious miracle. Notice something else we draw from this passage. Here we find not only the story of a gracious miracle, but notice also secondly, that we have here the story of:

II. A Grateful Man

Somehow, Jesus transfers His healing powers through the air, and as these lepers are making their way toward the temple, all ten of them are suddenly made clean.

Look with me at verse 15. It says, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God…”

One writer has observed that this is the story of ten unclean men, nine ungrateful men, and one unusual man.iii What makes this one man so unusual, when compared with his cleansed comrades is that he was obviously and openly grateful for what Christ had done for him.

Notice with me a couple of things we observe about this grateful man.

Notice first of all ...

A. How His Gratitude Was Declared

I am sure that if we could have caught up with other nine former lepers, they would have all been glad and thankful for their recent fortunes.

What separated this one man from all of them is that his gratitude was expressed. His thankfulness was put into words and actions.

Notice that his gratitude was expressed verbally. Verse 15 says that when this man realized what the Lord had done for Him, he turned around and “with a loud voice” began to give thanks to God.

Notice those two words that are translated “loud voice” in verse 15. They come from the Greek words megas and phones, which give us our English word “megaphone”.

When this man look down at his hand, and saw the pink hue of healthy skin, he did not merely whisper a private prayer of praise; he shouted like a megaphone, “Thank God! Thank God!”

This man’s gratitude was not only expressed verbally, but it was also expressed visibly. Look again at the text, and notice verse 16. The man shouted with a loud voice, and then he, “…fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks…”

This man bowed at the feet of Jesus in a visible, public act of worship. His gratitude and appreciation for Christ were declared through sounds of praise and signs of worship.

Right now, Angel and I are sharing the adventure of rearing a two year-old. For those who don’t know, most two-year-olds have manners only slightly better than a barn animal. One of the phrases we find ourselves repeating is, “What do you say?” Whenever we give Grace something, or whenever she asks for something, we require her to express herself by saying, “Please”, and “Thank you.”

True gratitude and authentic appreciation always manifest themselves through some sort of verbal and visible declaration.

Notice something else we learn from this grateful man. Notice not only how his gratitude was declared, but notice also further:

B. How His Gratitude Was Demonstrated

There is a phrase I don’t want us to miss in verse 15. All the lepers are heading on the path of their new life, and it says, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back…”

This man realized what the Lord had done for him, and his gratitude and appreciation were such that it caused him to stop, and turn around.

It is one thing to say, “Thanks”; but it is another thing to live thankful, and to demonstrate gratitude by the conduct of your life.

Since May of 2003, an organization called the Maine Troop Greeters have been waiting at the Bangor Airport to greet every plane load of troops that has come back home from overseas service. The group of about 100 volunteers will arrive 3 hours before the troops land, and set out cookies and pies, and prepare free cell phones for the troops to call their loved-ones. When the soldiers enter the airport, the Maine Troop Greeters line up and applaud as the service men and women make their way through the terminal. Bill Knight, the 84 year-old founder of the group, is a World War II veteran who was bothered by how the troops returning from Vietnam were treated. Through these demonstrations of appreciation, Knight hopes to ensure that today’s troops are thanked.

If you are truly appreciative for what Christ has done for you, what have you done to ensure that He is thanked? Have you only declared your gratitude to God; or have you demonstrated it as well?

This one leper was so moved and impacted by his thankfulness to Christ, that he stopped, turned around, and went back to offer His praise. His life demonstrated to gratitude.

Notice a third truth we draw from this story. Notice not only that this is a story of a gracious miracle, and a grateful man, but notice also thirdly and finally that this story is about:

III. A Grave Mistake

You can almost hear the surprise and disappointment in the words of our Lord as He asks in verse 17, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”

These nine lepers missed their opportunity to show their appreciation to Christ. They made a mistake that far too many of us make as well.

Warren Wiersbe writes about ingratitude and says, “Too often we are content to enjoy the gift but we forget the Giver. We are quick to pray but slow to praise.”

The sin of ingratitude is a mistake that no believer ought to ever make. Notice a couple of things that make ingratitude such a terrible error. First of all, forgetting to show our thankfulness is a mistake because of:

A. Who It Forgets

These nine lepers rushed home with thoughts of holding their wives and hugging their children again. Their eyes filled with tears as they realized that tonight they would have the privilege of eating a meal with loved ones again – something they thought they would never do.

While their excitement is understandable, what is tragic is that all nine of these men forgot that none of those things would be possible without Jesus.

Just moments before, they had eagerly and earnestly called His name; but now His name seems to be the farthest thing from their minds.

When we fail to declare and demonstrate our gratitude to the Lord, we show that to some degree we have forgotten all that He has done for us.

As Christians, we have been adopted into the family God, given full privileges as heirs and inheritors of the Kingdom of God. Our sins are forgiven, we are reconciled to the Father, and hell is no longer a possibility as we are promised eternal glory in heaven.

All of these things are true for us only because of what Christ Jesus has done for us. We have nothing apart from Him. We owe our entire existence to His good grace and mercy.

Yet, by the way we snooze through church, and grumble our way through life; it appears we have altogether forgotten the “riches of His grace” that have been bestowed upon us.

On September 12th, 2001, Sgt. Jeff Layne helped carry a huge American flag to the top of the crumbling façade of the Pentagon. This past Thursday, at a memorial service held near the same spot, Layne said, “I think America as a society…they forget too quickly…the sacrifices that men and women in uniform make. We should never forget. Never forget.”

As Christians, we must never forget that 2,000 years ago, the blood-stained, battered body of the Son of God exhaled its final breath, and Jesus Christ gave up His innocent life for the salvation of our sinful souls.

Ingratitude and the absence of appreciation reveal that we have forgotten our Lord. It is a grave mistake to be ungrateful, not only because of who it forgets, but notice also further that the mistake of ingratitude lies also in:

B. What It Forfeits

Look again at our text, and notice verse 19. There Jesus turns to the lone grateful man and says, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”

Now we know that this man had already been cleansed of his leprosy, so what did Jesus mean when He said, “…thy faith hath made thee whole”?

It is not exactly clear, but it appears that this man received an additional blessing, beyond that of his initial healing. Some have suggested that Jesus healed this man spiritually as well as physically. That seems to be the case. What is important to note is that there was a special blessing that came to this man as a result of his purposeful and clear expression of gratitude. The other nine lepers missed out on something else that Christ could do for them because they failed to give Him thanks.

There are some who miss out on many of the blessings of their Christian life all because they have failed to give the Lord thanks and praise for what He has done.

In King Lear, Shakespeare said, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.”

If a thankless child is a pain, then how much more is it true that a thankful child is a pleasure? No doubt, God is more inclined to bless His grateful children than He is the forgetful ones.

Don’t make the grave mistake of forfeiting blessings by forgetting to give thanks!


Helen Keller once said that she thought it would be a blessing if every human being were blind and deaf for a few days at some time during their lives. She said, “It would make them more appreciative of sight and the joys of sound.”vii

The Christian doesn’t need to experience being lost in order to appreciate being saved. All of us should be able to remember what it is like without the saving power of Christ in our lives.

With that being said, there should never be an absence of appreciation in the life of a Christian. If ten of us have been saved, ten of us should giving thanks and praise to God.

Likewise, if 200 people have been redeemed, then 200 should be rejoicing. 10% will do in the offering plate, but it is not nearly enough when it comes to giving thanks. 100% of us should be thanking God today for our salvation.


1 Bringing Thank You Back…, 9/9/08, PRNewswire, 9/11/08, 5EEF-4CBC-8083-BA575FB6A73A%7D&dist=hppr
2 Miracles, 9/12/08,
3 Wiersbe, Warren, Be Courageous, (Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1989), p. 53-54
4 Zezima, Katie, Saying Thank You To Those Who Answered the Call of Duty, 9/20/2006, Bangor Journal,
5 Wiersbe, Warren, p. 54
6 Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Ensures a Nation Will Not Forget, 9/11/08, Media-Newswire, 9/13/08,
7 Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, & Quotes, Compiled by Robert J. Morgan, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 2000), p.736