Each Wednesday is Jesus Asked. Check out Jesus Asked for more detail.
Luke 17:18 “Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
Jesus introduces the infamous mustard seed and in the same breath an interesting story about how riduculas it would be for the master to thank the servant.
What does a seed have to do with master servant relationships? What did faith have to do with this misguided thankfulness? And what did any of it have to do with forgiveness?
Miracles are object lessons
He drives his point home when 10 lepers cry out “Have mercy!” He gives them a command, and as they obey they are healed. One leper is thankful.
Out of the 10 only one recognized it wasn’t their obedience that healed them, it was Jesus the Great Physician. Then comes the punch line, who is going to give God glory, just this one guy?
I didn’t get how all that fits into forgiveness, faith and misdirected thankfulness till last Thanksgiving.
I was having a rough time. I had experienced hurt and betrayel like never before all that year. Thanksgiving was tough but I thought I was being tougher by being thankful. It was a good outlook, full of faith but something was off and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
That night after all the food was put away, I just couldn’t shake it any longer. I went to the Holy Spirit and sobbed “What is going on? I’m being thankful!”
This chapter in the Bible just so happened to be where I was in my devotions. I read it over and over, each time the Holy Spirit gently nudging me with “that’s why.” I finally got it. Jesus asked some tough questions.
However, how many of all the people watching gave God the glory for the healing? There are a lot of people thankful for stuff but is God going to get the glory? Is He going to benefit from it? Is a thank you all He gets? That is a lesson for sure, but let’s keep going a little deeper.
The leper’s faith had quality.
A tiny mustard seed is pungent with a distinct flavor. For a little seed it packs a punch.
The leper turned back from what he was told to do. He turned back from a custom. He turned back from what was seemingly the right thing to do. He turned back with the possibility of losing his healing! That is faith like a mustard seed, pungent and distinct.
There are times God will ask us to turn our backs on the status quo, the comfortable, the safe places and step out into the unknown. That’s pungent and distinct faith, another lesson as well.
Let’s go a little deeper still
When forgiving others it is not the quantity of faith you have but the quality of faith. It’s pungent and distinct, like the mustard seed. Forgiving others puts the whole matter in God’s hands, not yours.
Sometimes letting people off the hook will cost you, it might even make you look like the bad guy. Like the leper, you take the chance of not getting satisfaction in the matter. You will have to let it go. That’s distinct from the world’s way of forgiving.
When we truly forgive others we will even turn our back on our own rights of justice. Why? Because we have faith God knows better than us.
I wasn’t doing that last Thanksgiving. I was forgiving on the outside but on the inside I was secretly rehashing what they did, I was still hanging on to getting justice. When we relinquish all our rights to God it glorifies him.
Like the master and the servant, God doesn’t need to pat me on the back when I forgive others. When I demand that kind of attention from God, I’m getting the glory and He is not. On some occasions being merciful means no one will know about it, not even the person causing the hurt.
This Thanksgiving go a little deeper, turn your back on some blessings, on your rights and let some people off the hook. Maybe the holidays might go a little smoother.
Q4U: What does the prayer “Lord have mercy on us” mean to you?