One of the most interesting events in the life of Jesus is His meeting with ten lepers “And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (Luke 17:11-17)
So many people, down through the centuries, fail to express appreciation. Instead of counting their blessings, multitudes list their complaints. It is very common in our society to find that few are expressive of grateful words for those who bless their lives. Particularly is this attitude evident in many children toward their parents. In fact, it seems to be the order of the day for offspring to blame, accuse and have little regard for those who provide food, clothing, shelter and education for them. A simple and sincere “thank you” is a rarity in our day, whereas disobedience, rebellion and anarchy is a dominant factor in our age. Christianity demands more from us as we are taught to be grateful, considerate and encouraging. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
In the forty-four years I have tried to live for Jesus, as a gospel preacher, many people are on my “thank you” list. To ponder over those moments and the brethren who make life rich and meaningful, stirs my soul to express deep and earnest appreciation. I do not want to walk in the path of the nine lepers who failed to return and thank the Lord.
First of all, I am thankful to a loving sovereign God who sent the Redeemer to save my sinful soul. The burden of guilt was lifted when Calvary became real and personal to me. We show the gratitude we profess by the lives we manifest daily. We surely appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made when He became “obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). No one ever loved us like that, before or since. What a friend we have in Jesus!
I am grateful to parents who put the kingdom first and taught me in word and by example what Christianity is all about. My first memory is of my beloved mother singing gospel hymns as she worked in the home. My dad, regardless of long hours of labour, would still study the Bible before going to bed. We attended gospel meetings all summer longs, and I was privileged to hear and know scores of wonderful gospel preachers that still influence my life tremendously.
I am grateful for older members of the church who were constantly urging me to consider preaching the word—even when that was not what my future seemed to hold. However, the seed they planted in my mind never totally went unheeded.
For powerful Bible teachers, who stirred in my heart and mind the rich content of Scripture and the peace and challenge of the sacred text, I shall be forever indebted.
Some of the best friends a young man could ever count taught me, by example and kind personal interest, the joy and contentment that comes from telling others the grand old story of salvation. I will fervently try to pass this enthusiasm on to young men today.
I am especially grateful to a corps of young preachers—then and now—that warm our hearts and invigorate the soul. My fellow evangelists of forty years ago, helped when we were all young and idealistic. At least ten of us would visit, correspond and help each other in every righteous endeavor. We would pray together, rejoice freely in one another’s successes, have Bible drills to sharpen minds and exhort as needed. What camaraderie! Those golden days will never be forgotten. They are precious memories, indeed.
But now we are older preachers, and a new area of encouragement comes from young servants of God who are determined to preach the gospel with boldness. They encourage us by their dedication and challenge us to keep up our study and unwavering loyalty for the cause of the Master. It has been a marvelous trek with Christ and the family of God for which we give thanks.
Lest we be like those nine lepers, we must pause now to praise God for a spiritual helper such as the wife who stands by your side through all the years, in joy and in sorrow to hold up the banner of the cross. Without such a one, we could not accomplish much for eternity. That one leper will forever be a reminder to all of us to pause frequently to count our many blessings. God has been very good to all of us. May we praise His holy name.
Written by Johnny Ramsey