From Kingdom People:
The account of such flagrant ungratefulness on behalf of nine lepers, healed graciously by Jesus, seems shocking to us today. How could only one of ten come back and say “Thank you?”
Yet, in Jesus’ day, the absence of vocal thanksgiving was not uncommon at all. In fact, thanking someone for hospitality or for an act of kindness could actually be considered an affront to the host!
If a person in Jesus’ day received a gift from his neighbor, he would not dare thank the neighbor verbally. Instead, he would begin thinking of how he could return the neighbor’s graciousness by doing something above and beyond that which had been done for him.
The culture of honor and shame created a climate leading each person to try to “outshine” the other in acts of generosity. Relegating gratitude to simply saying “thank you” essentially implied that one would not return the favor, thus ending the “give-and-take” relationship.
Understanding this ancient mentality opens up a deeper meaning to the Samaritan’s action of thanksgiving.
Instead of clinging to his cultural pride, the healed leper renounced the game of “outshining” the other’s honor and threw himself at Jesus’ feet in worship. He was announcing his utter weakness in trying to repay the Master for the gift of healing.
More than showing recognition for his healing, the Samaritan was recognizing that Jesus had “won” – the honor was His! It was pointless to try to return so great a favor, senseless to seek to uphold personal honor.
When we come before God with thanksgiving, we are doing much more than showing Him gratitude for certain gifts and blessings He has bestowed on us.
More importantly, we are renouncing the game of seeking our own honor, humbly acknowledging that God has given us more than we could ever repay! He is the only one worthy of praise and nothing we will do can ever compare with His amazing grace.