In a village on the borderland between Galilee and Samaria, Jesus encountered ten leprous men while on His journey to Jerusalem to face betrayal, trial, torture, and death (Luke 17:11-19).  The men raised their voices to Jesus from a distance, observing the social isolation and separation that their leprosy demanded, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  Despite the nearness of His own suffering, which could have easily (and understandably) consumed all of His focus and concern, Jesus was moved with compassion and directed the men to go and show themselves to the priests.  According to the ritual requirements of the Law, a leper could be declared clean and free from the disease only after examination by a priest and the offering of sacrifices (Leviticus 14:1-32).

All ten of the lepers demonstrated great faith by following Jesus’ instructions, especially since their leprosy was still upon them as they began their journey.  Somewhere along the way, their disease was taken away by the power, grace, and mercy of the Lord.  One of the ten, only one, a Samaritan, turned back to find Jesus.  He glorified God with a loud voice, fell at Jesus’ feet, and gave thanks to Him for the gift of restored health.

We often use this story (and rightfully so) to illustrate our need to offer thanksgiving and praise to God and to caution against having a heart of ingratitude.  However, it is interesting to note that the other nine men still enjoyed the blessing of healing, despite their failure to return and thank the Lord.  The attitude of Jesus wasn’t, “I’ll heal you only if you promise to be grateful.”  He healed them because of who He was; loving, compassionate, and merciful.

Jesus instructs us to be merciful in the same way that our heavenly Father is merciful, loving our enemies and doing good, expecting nothing in return (even gratitude); “for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35-36).  “God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).  There are multitudes who enjoy the warmth of the sun and the sweetness of the rain who never acknowledge the divine Giver of those blessings; some of the them even overtly deny His existence.  Still, He blesses.

Acts of kindness to others are self-authenticating.  They need no justification.  They do not require anyone’s permission.  They are not dependent on the gratitude, or lack thereof, possessed by the recipients of the kindness. 

We do good for the sake of doing good and for the sake of the Savior in whose steps we follow.