When Ingratitude Is Louder Than Gratitude?

Text: Luke 17:11-19

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Loud is what we get in today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke.  The one leper who came back to thank Jesus, fell at Jesus’ feet with a loud voice, glorifying God. You see, I am told that one of the consequences of leprosy is that it makes your voice hoarse. A leper cannot make any loud noises. That is why lepers would often rattle pots and pans and bells when they wanted to get attention. Their voices did not carry that far. 

But when this leper was healed by Jesus?  Well, he regained his voice and he certainly used it. No more soft talking for him!  He used that voice to glorify and praise God LOUDLY, worshipping at Jesus’ feet.

So what do we make of him being so very loud?  You see, when someone is loud, they typically are excited.  When someone is loud, it drowns out everything else.  

So, I guess we could ask ourselves a question, are we loud as a Christian?  I am not talking about turning the church sound system up or getting loud instruments into the chancel area of the church to raise the roof of the church.  I am simply asking if our praise and thankfulness towards God is louder than all the complaining, bickering, and gossip that we do in life?  Does our thankfulness towards God drown out our ingratitude?  Do you speak about what God has done in your life louder than – perhaps – your gossip about others?  Which is louder: your gratitude for the gifts you have received or your ingratitude for what you don’t have? 

Ouch.  Those questions really hurt.  And they are supposed to.

You see, loudness comes from being excited.  And we get excited when something good happens to us.  When we get something that we don’t deserve, we become thankful and excited and loud. Gratitude and excitement tend to make us loud and full of joy. 

But, life has had a way of turning us into serious adults, who only bicker, complain, and gossip.  Being an adult tends to lead us into bitterness where we do not recognize all the good gifts that we have received.  Furthermore, as adults we can convince ourselves that it is against good piety to laugh, giggle, and show forth joy like a little child.

Remember what Jesus said in the Gospels?

“Unless you turn and become like children you will not enter the kingdom of God…” 

The point being: that leper was excited and loud like a little child because he had had a horrible disease that was eating up his body.  The leper was alienated from human society. Death was already chewing on him and he knew it.  But one word from Jesus made death run away. One word from Jesus and the leper’s skin was whole and pure again.  His voice became smooth, as it had been before. He was a new man. And like a kid opening a gift at Christmas, this leper was excited and thankful and loud. Wouldn’t you have been excited too if you were that leper? You bet!  So, what is our excuse now? 

Dear friends, something a lot worse than leprosy wars against us: sin. But unlike leprosy, sin does not just result in the death of our body.  Sin lands us in hell. It lands us in the agony of eternal separation from God who alone is life and joy. And there is nothing we can do about sin.  No matter how hard we scrub, we are sin-sick.  Stained with sin. 

But Jesus came, sent by the Father, to take care of sin’s damning effects once and for all. Jesus healed you from sin’s condemnation by taking the leprosy of sin into His sinless body and enduring it for us. Then he rose again and now delivers His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation to you and me through His Word and Sacraments. 

Listen up!  Jesus did that for you and me!  And what do we do? Well, like the nine, most of the time we forget it and go back to the “seriousness” of life.  We receive the good news and then go back to the daily grind.  We receive the gift of immortality and then we go back to the business of getting and spending. And so, we many times fail to see just how lucky, blessed, and fortunate we are!  We forget to be like little kids – remembering that we can’t do much of anything and have been given everything!

I wonder sometimes if we don’t have it all backwards.  We adults tend to become quieter the older we get.  And then we begin to complain, bicker, and gossip.   Frankly stated, we are the ones that need to pull out our catechism again and remember that for all that the Lord has done, it is our duty to thank and praise God – to gladly serve and obey Him. In other words, if we can be brought to repentance to be like a little child who knows that he cannot do anything, we would begin to see just how many gifts the Lord showers down on us every single day!  And the more that we see the gifts that the Lord gives us, the more we become like loud little children! 

Dear Baptized Saints, Christ has done it all and gives it to you as gift! Being thankful does not begin with you trying to be thankful but it comes from the fact that we have been given forgiveness, life, and salvation when we don’t deserve it and especially when we can’t earn it.  And so, if your grumbling and complaining is louder than your thankfulness and gratitude - repent! 

May the Lord God forgive you and me for being loud with complaints and quiet on gratitude! 

May the Lord fill our lips with gratitude, excitement, and joy. 

May the Lord cause us to be loud on joy and gratitude to drown out the complaints, bickering, and gossip around us! 

And as a church, may Jesus continually shower his gifts upon us so that we can be loud about forgiveness, life, and salvation – and quiet with complaints, bickering, and gossip. 

And yes, when we are loud about Jesus and His gifts, others will hear and notice. 

We Lutherans seem to always be complaining about how we do not do evangelism correctly.  But the joke is on us!  Evangelism does not depend on slick marketing campaigns or cheesy sales techniques but simply being loud about Jesus.

The best evangelism is simply overheard praise, loud voices glorifying God, people who are excited about what Jesus has done for them and who let that thanksgiving and praise drive out complaints, bickering, and gossip. People notice that. They notice churches that are loud on Jesus and quiet on the silly mantras of the world.  They notice the difference and they want to know why.

And so, it is rather simple.  We come to church to be like loud children – to be like that loud leper.  We come to receive gifts here at this church and then we say,  

“This is so awesome!  I don’t deserve this grace.  I can’t earn this forgiveness.  I am not worthy for I am a fool – the chief of sinners!  And yet, Jesus is for me!  Jesus gives to me!  He claims me.  I am His!”

Baptized Saints, this Thanksgiving let us take our cue from this Samaritan ex-leper. Remember the great things that our God has done for you in Christ Jesus - and the great things He goes on doing as you receive from Him in Holy Communion.

And as you receive today and in the weeks to come, don’t forget that it is o.k. to be a loud little child who is excited to receive gifts with thanksgiving.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.


This sermon is borrowed, adjusted, and indebted in part to Rev. Will Weedon’s sermon on Luke 17:11-19.

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