Maybe the Most Important Heart Quality of All!

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

Have you felt underappreciated lately? Have you had yourself a pity party lately? Have you had a discussion with yourself about why you aren’t being treated fairly or with the respect and appreciation you deserve? I think these kinds of thoughts creep into all our lives at one time or another. They are dangerous and can have almost a paralyzing effect that not only keeps people from moving forward but causes them to replay their I’m Not Appreciated speech in their head again and again and year after year.

Many years ago, a couple from church came to us to ask for prayer! This couple told Renee and me a horribly sad story of financial devastation in their life. They said they didn’t have any money to pay their mortgage or bills, they didn’t have money for groceries, and they didn’t know how they were going to feed their children.

At that time, Renee and I were a young couple with four very young children under the age of 6. Our own finances were so squeaky tight that we could hardly afford what we needed for groceries. But, we sacrificially took one hundred dollars—almost our entire food budget for the month (at that time) and gave it to them. We prayed and trusted God by faith for our groceries that month. When we gave it to them, they hardly said thanks. We thought, Maybe they didn’t think it was that much or not nearly enough for what they needed. We didn’t know. All we knew was that they just said Thanks and nothing more. Renee and I thought, How could they be so unappreciative? Don’t they realize the sacrifice we just made for them? Don’t they appreciate that we put our children’s needs at risk for theirs? It hurt to be so unappreciated for what we sacrificed for them.

Fast forward 37 plus years and we would tell you we’ve learned a lot about people. We’ve learned that most people are focused on themselves and not others. I know that sounds horrible, but for the most part, it’s true! And because it’s true, most people fall in the range of poor to not great on the showing appreciation scale. After many years, you begin to recognize that the amount of people who are wonderfully appreciative and thankful for everything is a very small group who are the salt of the earth!

Jesus experienced unappreciative people! We read about it in Luke 17:11-19. “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, their leprosy disappeared. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God, I’m healed!” He fell face down on the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Does only this foreigner return to give glory to God?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has made you well.”

Understanding that most people lack a thankful and appreciative heart is a sad reality.  For Jesus, it was one out of ten! Unappreciation never stopped Jesus from showing His love and making sacrifices, but He didn’t like it and has taught us to be better than that!  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT2) says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Throughout our life together, Renee and I have prayed and asked God to help us be thankful for every good thing in our life! The Lord taught us to focus on two particular attitudes to refine thanksgiving in our life. First, He taught us that any sacrificial thing we do, no matter how large or small, to do them as unto the Lord without expecting appreciation from anyone other than God. Proverbs 19:17 (NIV) says, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward him for what he has done.” If people are appreciative, that’s sweet and a bonus. If they’re not, it doesn’t bother us because we don’t expect it and know how deficient most people are at it. 

Secondly, God taught us to become highly appreciative people! He taught us to pay attention and notice the good in people and catch the good things they do. He taught us to vocalize it and encourage or thank people for it. We’ve learned from walking this out that people appreciate encouragement, thanks, and appreciation more than they can say. The fact is, it’s a powerful life-giving force!

In my quiet time this morning, I was overwhelmed with the multitude of things Jesus had done for us in our lives. My heart always feels thanksgiving to Jesus for giving us a new life in Him. For Renee and I, learning to be purposely thankful and appreciative has opened the eyes of our hearts. We see God touching our lives every day in some way, and we are purposely thankful for it.  And with people, we’ve learned to focus our hearts on giving thanks and appreciation rather than looking for it. It helps us keep our hearts right toward God and man, and it builds the character quality of being a thankful person within us. Being thankful and an appreciator rocks! Self-pity… It’s the pits!

Ephesians 5:20 (TLB) “Always give thanks for everything to our God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt

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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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