As you know from last week’s post, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking around the idea of appreciation. I shared a story about a bicycle ride along the canal with my family and friends in which my faith was challenged and my understanding of appreciation grew. What I didn’t share in the story of the “deflated tires” was how elated my wife was when riding on the fixed tires. She laughed and told me how out of shape she felt until she realized that it is way harder to ride on deflated tires. This got me thinking …
Could our levels of appreciation be like the amount of air in a bicycle tire?
Could our appreciation for God and others be inflated, deflated or just plain flat?
What I mean by this is appreciation that is lacking or non-existent is like a flat tire. Appreciation that is an empty expression, or just lip- service, is deflated. And, appreciation that is filled with gratitude is like a perfectly inflated tire.
I would like to give you a definition for appreciation, but before I do I want to share what I found appreciation not to be. Appreciation is not just empty words coming out of a person’s mouth or empty deeds and gestures. For example, the quick “thank you” you casually say to the person who holds the door for you or gives you your food at the take out window. These are polite manners but appreciation goes beyond manners.
APPRECIATION is when we recognize the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of the people and things in our lives. We take time to assess their true worth and value that they hold. And even more importantly, we are compelled to respond with action. This is what is referred to in the Hebrew language as Hakaras Tovah. It is the Hebrew term for gratitude meaning appreciation that goes beyond words only. It may include words of kindness, but the words are followed by deeds that convey genuine gratitude toward God and others. The heart of the person is to give and not take. The person is compelled to reciprocate the kindness that was shown. As Proverbs 27:19 says, “Just as water reflects a face, a heart replies to another person.”
So what might prevent a person from doing this? I’m glad you asked! A spirit of entitlement, a lack of love, being selfish, pride, not wanting to feel indebted or obligated, all these things will prevent a person from showing genuine appreciation.
WHEN IT COMES TO APPRECIATION IS YOURS FLAT, DEFLATED OR INFLATED?
Let’s look at the story of the Ten Lepers. Leprosy is a heinous disease that leaves the person disfigured with lumps, bumps and sores. It was so highly contagious that those with the disease were cast out from the public. Whenever they walked, even in the vicinity of others, they had to yell, “Unclean” to warn people to stay away. At the time of this Biblical story, the only cure for leprosy was death. Can you imagine how much someone with this disease would want to be healed?
As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
We clearly see that the Hebrew term for gratitude, Hakaras Tovah, is being brought forth in the life of this Samaritan. His appreciation went beyond just words. He could have just said, “Thanks so much. I really appreciate it,” and been on his way … not giving this miracle a second thought. How often do we do that? But, his appreciation went beyond words. He took action. First, after he realized he was cleansed, he came back. Then, he fell to ground to show his deepest appreciation. Finally, he used his words to give praise and to glorify God. The Samaritan’s actions were to give back not to take. He displayed genuine gratitude through his worship. He gave thanks to Jesus for what was done.
But, can we say the same things about the other nine lepers? This Samaritan, not even a Jew, returned to show his appreciation while the nine Jews went on their way as if they were entitled. History records that the Jewish people would have nothing to do with the Samaritan people. Is it a wonder why Jesus stated, “Didn’t I heal ten men. Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Jesus was right to expect God’s chosen people to give glory to God and yet this foreigner with leprosy showed more appreciation for The Lord.
In researching appreciation, I am left with the this thought: How many times have I given an empty thank you or no thanks at all to Jesus? To others? Fact is, appreciation is a lot like a bicycle tire. You can go a lot farther on tires that are properly inflated than you can on ones that are deflated or flat. Inflated, or genuine, appreciation will not only take you far but it makes the ride a lot smoother.
An empty thank you doesn’t carry you very far … More on that next time!
APPRECIATION IS YOUR’S INFLATED, DEFLATED OR FLAT?
Check out this video on YouTube: