A thankful heart is a generous heart, and while we are often thankful, there are times when we forget how to say thanks, especially when life’s challenges seem overwhelming. In Thessalonians 5:18, Paul tells us to, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Not only did Paul instruct us to do so, but he lived it out – continually grateful to God, but also expressing his thanks and appreciation to others.
Why is it so important to express appreciation? Paul answers in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, telling us to “Encourage one another and build each other up.” Expressing our appreciation to and for others builds them up, increases their self-worth. Of course, we all know this is true, we’ve felt it ourselves when others express their appreciation to us, but it does bring up more questions, doesn’t it?
How do we know who to thank? What should we appreciate? Again, we turn to Paul, first in Philippians 1:3-5, 7, where he says, “I thank God for you every time I think of you…because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now…both now that I am in prison and also while I was free…” Paul shares his appreciation to those who have helped him loyally during his life – the good times and the not-so-good times.
In Colossians, Paul goes on to say, “Be patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone…for you were called to live as one united body, and always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:13,15). Not only does he appreciate the loyalty of those around him, he also appreciates their differences. Rather than creating division, our differences are a blessing and should be recognized as such.
Paul doesn’t stop there though. In 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, he declares, “We always thank God for you…how you put your faith into practice, and how your love made you work so hard…” Paul appreciated the work of others and how they demonstrated their faith in God.
We can show our appreciation for all these things and more by being genuine when we say thanks, by being clear so others recognize our appreciation, and by continually showing kindness and thanksgiving to those who are around us.
Who can you thank this week? Have you thanked God today? May we show our appreciation for others this week, thanking God first as well as those around us!