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Why Give to the Ungrateful?

Learning to follow Jesus' model of generosity.

My work in the church has given me a new appreciation for the story of Jesus' healing the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). As you remember, only one of the ten bothered to thank him. This passage often becomes the basis for sermons and lessons on the importance of gratitude. That's a true interpretation, of course, but it's not necessarily the whole story.

Those of us who are active in church ministry can learn something else from the model Jesus provides. When we give of ourselves, what do we expect in return? When we offer cups of cold water in Christ's name, what response do we foresee? Quenched recipients smiling shyly at us, their eyes shining with gratitude?

Jesus told his disciples, "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8). But he also said, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves" (Matt. 10:16) and "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first" (John 15:18). Do we expect a higher thankfulness ratio than Christ received?

The hard realities

A couple of years ...

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