Showing appreciation is God’s way
While the same thing could be said for the biblical way for relationships, the Christian who is serious about following the Lord lives out a life of gratitude and appreciation for something higher than personal benefits or altruistic influence for the good of society, both of which are commendable. The believer in Christ exercises empathy, practices sincere love, and honors others because the Lord says to do so. Even more importantly, the Christian who is serious about his or her walk with Christ values others and shows appreciation out of a heart to honor God and to reflect the radiant beauty of God’s loving, merciful, and gracious character.
Further, although we can achieve wholesome practices for personal and social good, the empowerment Christians have for enriched social interactions comes through the same power that brought Jesus back from three days in death (see Ephesians 2). As believers, we are expected to live out of hearts filled with grace and gratitude because of the transforming nature of Christ’s redemptive work.
So, while we can experience the inner personal and interpersonal benefits as others who practice thankfulness, we do so for reasons above and beyond our humanity. That’s the way God has made us and that is the way he is remaking us in the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:24;Colossians 3:10).
How to practice thankfulness?
How do we practice thankfulness and grateful care toward others, especially toward fellow Christians? The Bible is rather clear about how we do this. Just a few examples are:
· By truly loving one another
(John 13:34-35; 15:12; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9-10; 1 Pet. 1:22; 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11) This is demonstrating God’s goodness through self-giving service. True love seeks the welfare of all with no ill will for anyone (Rom. 13:8-10). Christ-like love seeks to do good to all people, but especially toward those that are of the household of the faith. (Gal. 6:10cp. 1 Cor. 13; Col. 3:12)
· By serving one another with a servant’s attitude.
(John 13:14; 2 Cor. 4:5; Gal. 5:13; Phil. 2:3-8 cp. Rom. 12:10; Eph. 5:21; 1 Pet. 5:5)
· Through intentional and caring hospitality.
(Rom. 15:7; I Pet. 4:9)
· With a concern for and helping with each other’s needs.
(1 Cor. 12:25; Gal. 6:2)
Under each of the rather broad and clearly stated biblical exhortations are thousands of possible applications. That is not the scope of this writing. However, I offer some practical suggestions for how to give thanks to others. But, before we get to the practical, allow me to put down the foundational.
A foundation for how to thank others
Dr. Fredrickson speaks wisely about the nature of good acts of appreciation when she writes,
Another way to say this is that the script for gratitude involves both a benefit, or kind deed, and a benefactor, the kind person behind the kind deed. Whereas many people express their appreciation to others by shining a spotlight on the benefit they received— the gift, favor, or the kind deed itself— we discovered that, by contrast, the best ‘thank-yous’ simply use the benefit as a springboard toward shining a spotlight on the good qualities of the other person, their benefactor. Done well, then, expressing appreciation for your partner’s kindness to you can become a kind gesture in return, one that conveys that you see and appreciate in your partner’s actions his or her good and inspiring qualities. How did we know that this is the best way to convey appreciation? Because compared to expressions that merely focus on benefits, those that also focus on benefactors make the partner who hears that ‘thanks’ feel understood, cared for, and validated. And this good feeling— the feeling that their partner really ‘gets’ them and cherishes them— allows people to walk around each day feeling better about themselves and better about their relationship. And in six months’ time, it forecasts becoming even more solid and satisfied with their relationship. (Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection; Penguin Group. Kindle edition; pp. 75-76)
Practicing gratitude and demonstrating appreciation requires a level of humility (not thinking of yourself more highly than you ought to think), empathy (connecting on a mental and emotional plane that “gets” the other person), and servitude (an attitude that desires the best for the other in order to enrich his or her life). In other words, the acts of gratitude done well and from an other-focused stance really elevate the other person and mutually enrich the relationship.
So, for those of us who are idea-deprived when it comes to showing appreciation all you need to do is Google “How to give thanks” and you will be provided with no less than 485 million articles to help. No joke! However, in the interest of saving time (you can send me a note of thanks later) allow me to tool an obvious acronym to help. I will use T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G. Perhaps it will make things easier to practice gratefulness for others?
Showing appreciation in these twelve suggested ways is not so much about you as it is about making much of them.
You can find this and the full story in ThanksLiving: How to Appreciate Others in 12 Meaningful Ways.