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“One of them, when he saw that 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.” Luke 17:15-16

The story of Jesus and the Ten Lepers brilliantly shows the importance of saying “thank you,” – and how foolish we look when we fail to do so. In the story, ten lepers beg Jesus to have pity on them and cure them.  While the text calls the men “lepers,” we don’t know precisely what disease these men had.  All we know is that they had a skin disease that rendered them unfit to be part of the community.

Now if you had a disease that was visible and unsightly, and if that disease prevented you from being with your family and friends, and then a stranger came along and cured you, wouldn’t you say “thank you”? Of course, you would.  It would be utterly stupid not to say “thank you” under those circumstances.  Yet most of us fail to say “thank you” in equally stupid ways all the time.

For instance, I never said “thank you” to my parents for paying for my living expenses while I was in college. My tuition was nominal, so that was covered.  However, my living expenses were not.  Now, my parents could have said to me, “You are 18.  You are legally an adult, so figure it out.”  But they didn’t.  And like the nine lepers, I never said “thank you.”

As children, we feel entitled to all kinds of things, when in reality, we are owed food, clothing and shelter until we are 18. After that, anything that we receive is a gift that deserves appreciation.  Truth be told, we aren’t owed anything in life.  Every last thing we have, including the ability to breathe, is a gift from God.  That is why expressions of gratitude are so important.

As a result, over the years, I’ve tried to train myself to be quick to say “thank you.” Now there are lots of ways that we can express gratitude.  Certainly, telling someone directly is effective.  But how often do you get a Thank You card these days?  In this age of email and text, probably not that often.  Yet it is nice to receive a tangible note to keep and enjoy.

It is interesting that with all the loftier theological issues addressed in the gospels, an entire story is devoted to the importance of giving thanks. There is a reason why the Bible is the best “self-help” book ever written.  It gives simple advice for the successful life.  And reminding us of the importance of saying “thank you” is one of the best pieces of advice that we can get.

Not only it is nice to hear words of gratitude, but it is good for us to say them. When we express gratitude, it makes our relationships go more smoothly.  Quite honestly, people feel taken advantage of if you don’t say thank you when they do things for you.  Gratitude is the oil that allows the gears of our relationships to move smoothly.

Moreover, when we say “thank you,” we remind ourselves that when others do things for us, it is a gift. We lose the arrogance of believing that we are “owed.”

Consider this week whether you are saying “thank you” to those who deserve your gratitude. Or are you like the nine lepers who receive a divine gift and simply walk away?  Remember that saying “thank you” is not only good for the person hearing it, but it is also good for the person saying it.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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