In the Gospel of Saint Luke (17:11-19), we read the incredible story of Jesus healing ten lepers. All ten of them cried out to Jesus, calling Him “Master”, and asking for His mercy. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests in accordance with Jewish Laws regarding being cleansed of a skin disease. All ten were obedient and all ten were healed.
Of those ten, only “one of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.” He was the exception. The other nine had received what they wanted from the Lord and went on their way in the world. How many of us have received what we begged of the Lord in prayer and after receiving it, simply went on our way in the world? That is a question worth asking ourselves, but it is not the direction of today’s devotional.
The one man who returned was the exception and he received far more than simply his healing from leprosy. He was the “exception” and he truly became “exceptional” in the Holy Gospel. His actions were not like the other nine; his actions made him different than the rest. He stood out because of his heart for the Lord. There is a lesson for all of us living as Christians in this world today.
If anyone desires to be an “Exceptional Christian” in this world we live in, then we must strive to be an “Exception” in how we live. This involves our daily decisions. Saint Paul gives us a few ideas in Colossians 3:8-9. After reminding us of how we were healed of our past “spiritual leprosy” (sins), he reminds us of how we can lead an exceptional life in Christ:
“Now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other.”
Anger– When the rest of our world is angry over (you name it), be the exception and not dwell on your anger. Strive to conquer anger in those situations that call most of the world to burn with anger in their minds and hearts.
Rage– This is one step up from anger, where we put our anger into action. If you are struggling to conquer the anger inside of you, at least fight to conquer the actions that may arise from it. Don’t let the anger rise up in an angry fist, angry words, or other angry actions. The world may delight in it and urge us to give in, but be the exception.
Malice– This is when we have the desire to do evil or have ill-will toward others. Vengeance is mine says the world. The Lord asks us to walk in forgiveness, to love our enemies, and pray for those who wrong us. As hard as that might seem, as we strive to live this way, we are well on the path to being exceptional Christians.
Slander– When others are slandering someone, the exceptional Christian will not enter in to the slandering. Instead, the exception finds something good to say about the person being slandered.
Filthy Language– The world would have us cussing as a normal part of our lives. Some people or situations seem to call us to cuss. To be the exception takes great self-control, perhaps more than we think we can do. Try this: Make the sign of the Cross over your lips and ask the Lord to be the Lord over the words that come out of your mouth. It may be something that needs to be done over and over again as we strive to be exceptional Christians.
Lying– People may lie for so many different reasons, often to make themselves something they are not (innocent, successful, rich, etc). To quit lying can be a difficult journey. In my own life, I found a path that worked for me. Whenever I told a lie to someone, I would force myself (force is an accurate word) to go back to that person and tell them the truth. It was such a difficult task that I soon caught myself wanting to exaggerate something or some other lie, and I would stop before having to pay the price. To stop lying is a vital step in being an exception.
This list from Saint Paul reminds us of the bad things we should not do as exceptional Christians. There also the many good things we should do in order to be exceptional. We can take these on by imitating Christ as we read of His life and teachings in the Holy Gospels.
Saint Paul reminds us that: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory… since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:4,10)
If one desires to be an “Exceptional Christian” then strive to be an “Exception”