The Other Nine
Luke 17:15-17 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God… giving him thanks… Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?”
Some days, my arrogance has arrogance. The other day, as I was in line at the gas station, the patron ahead of me bought a pack of cigarettes. As I was on my way to the gym, I felt confident in my healthy life choices and I began to look down on this tobacco addict. I, who should be humble for life, in my pride, found myself to be better than. Though God has been very gracious to me through my addiction and recovery, I found myself looking down on this one still struggling with addiction.
Jesus, in today’s passage, healed ten lepers but only one of them returned to thank him. The other nine were obedient to him when it suited their needs, but once they got what they wanted, they continued on their self-centered path. They forgot where they came from and they forgot who had healed them. With their leprosy gone, the nine just had no further need for Christ.
This is the attitude I adopted at the gas station. In my recovery and healing, I forgot where I had been. I overlooked my own destructive behavior and I condescended to the one still struggling. I took my eyes off God and turned them to me. In my pride and arrogance, I ignored my other defects. I imagined myself to be fixed and no longer in desperate need.
The truth is, of course, that I still have struggles and I still have need. I may no longer be addicted to drugs but my thoughts betray that I am still addicted to self. Though I start every day turning my gaze to God, by the time I leave the house, I frequently turn my gaze back to self. I still eat too much, think evil thoughts, get angry, say hurtful things and generally pursue me.
The self-centered attitude I find in recovery is just another form of addiction. When I turn my gaze from the God who brought me out of my destruction, I am just trading drug addiction for me-addiction. My pride that day in the gas station was every bit as destructive as those cigarettes.
So, how do I avoid the pitfall of pride that so often comes with recovery? I need God to help me in my destruction, but once He does, I find that, like the other nine, I no longer need him. Thus, I return to some other destructive behavior that was just a little less obvious than the first.
The answer lies in choosing gratitude like the one leper. He remembered the one who healed him and thus, he kept his gaze focused on Christ. It is in daily, remembering who I am and what God has done for me, that I avoid the arrogance of the nine. It is in daily thanking God for what He has done for me that I keep my focus off me and on him.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.