A man went to his rabbi and complained, “There are ten of us living in one room. Life is unbearable! What can I do?” The rabbi answered, “Go home and take your goat into the room with you.” The man was incredulous; but the rabbi was insistent. “Do as I say. Come back in a week.”
A week later the man returned looking more distraught than ever. “Rabbi, please, we cannot stand it. The goat is filthy!” The rabbi then told him, “Very well, go home and let the goat out. Come back in a week.” A radiant man returned to the rabbi a week later. His perspective had been astonishingly altered. “Life is beautiful,” he cried. “We enjoy every minute of living together without the goat—and there’s only ten of us!”
Jesus once encountered a group of ten, living together, with little for which to be thankful. These ten had more than a stinking goat in the room. They had leprosy. But Jesus did more than change their perspective: He healed them. They were physically well, and turned together from death’s door. Yet, they did not turn together toward their healer.
Only one came back to Jesus. He fell at the feet of Christ and worshiped. This was a thankful man. This was a man with perspective. Jesus was surprised by this. “Were not all ten cleansed?” Jesus asked rhetorically. “Then, where are the other nine?”
Why didn’t the others come back? Maybe one waited to see if the cure was for real. Maybe another intended to go back later, as soon as possible. Maybe one ran to the family from which he had long been separated or got so entranced with having his life back, he simply forgot to return to the one who had performed the healing. I don’t know for sure.
But I do know that we can become so absorbed in our happiness—in our blessings or good fortune—that we fail to consider the Source of those blessings. We do not maintain perspective, and can sometimes say “Thank you,” because we know that it is the proper thing to do, but saying it and feeling it are two different things.
During this holiday week, may the Source of every good and perfect gift give us the greatest gift of all: A grateful heart. In return, may we fall at his feet with thanksgiving.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.