The Happiness of Giving Enhanced by Grateful Receiving
REFLECT back to the newly wedded couple mentioned in the first article. Can you see them privately going over each gift received, commenting on how each item is just the thing they need? Can you see the bride carefully putting the sheets and pillowcases on a special shelf for easy access, the dishes in the cupboards, the silverware in the drawers, the toaster on the kitchen counter for quick daily use?
Together they carefully hang each picture in just the right place, the clocks in the most convenient locations. They decorate their hand-me-down dining table with one of the new tablecloths. The matching napkins in their gift napkin rings add a touch of class.
They are particularly fond of this gift—an electric can opener. The bride expects to use this convenience often. It was given them by a dear friend who they know could not afford one for herself. And this bedspread, made by an aged aunt with arthritic hands. It must have taken her months to do all the fancy needlework. What a labor of love!
They cherish each gift. Take back any single item and swap it for something else or for cash? Never! Now comes the most loving part of all—their expressions of thanks. Will they take the time to do it?
Have you been the recipient of a material gift, an expensive or an inexpensive one—a bouquet of flowers, a basket of fruit, a simple houseplant perhaps? Did some dear friend clean your house when you were ill or cook a meal for your family when you were unable? Did you thank them?
What a simple word “thanks” is. With one tiny expulsion of breath one can say it. Yet how often the expressing of it is ignored. Once a taxi driver returned a man’s wallet left in his cab. What a gift! The owner took the wallet without a word. Imagine how crushed the taxi driver was by this ingratitude. He lamented, “If the guy had only said ‘Thanks.’”
An issue of this magazine reported on a group of high-school boys who had formed a club for the purpose of aiding people. “They assisted stranded motorists by fixing flat tires, gave them gas if they unexpectedly ran out, and helped them in other ways,” the article said. ‘They took no money for their services. They asked only that the motorists write a “thank you” letter for their club files.’ What were the results? A club spokesman said: “You know, to date we have received only two letters, although our club records show we have assisted over 150 motorists in the two years we’ve been organized.”
How profusely would you thank someone who had saved your life? Imagine what a gift that person had given you! Yet, one man risked his life to save passengers on a sinking ship, pulling 17 from the clutches of death, after which he had to be carried exhausted to his home. When asked years later what stood out in his memory of so gallant a rescue, he replied: ‘Only this, sir. Of the seventeen people I saved not one ever thanked me.’
Is it a sign of weakness to say “thank you” for an act of kindness, a material gift, or a gift of life? Would these ever thank Jehovah God, the Great Life-giver, for their own life? If they cannot thank someone whom they can see, is it likely they will thank the One whom they cannot see?—1 John 4:20.
Is it any wonder that so many of today’s youths find it difficult to express heartfelt thanks for a gift received or an act of kindness shown? If parents do not say “please” and “thank you,” their children are not likely to do so.
Lack of appreciation is one of the identifying marks that we are living in “the last days.” The apostle Paul warned: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, . . . unthankful.”—2 Timothy 3:1, 2.
How to Show Appreciation
The designing and selling of thank-you cards is big business. Many of the cards express the sentiments beautifully. It is convenient to purchase these and send them to those who have given gifts or extended acts of kindness. But in addition, would it not be a loving and kind thing to add a personal touch, to write on them our own words of appreciation in our own handwriting—perhaps naming the gift received and how much we appreciate it and the happiness we have received or expect to receive from its use?
Along with this, where possible, would not a cheerful oral expression of gratitude, a handshake, a warm embrace, or other gesture of affection be appreciated by the giver? If we complain that time does not allow for our doing so, then think of the time, effort, and money the giver expended in our behalf. The giver’s happiness in giving is enhanced by our appreciation shown.
We do well to remember the words of the greatest giver of all, Jesus: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Soon, in the coming earthly Paradise of righteousness, not only will all human inhabitants daily thank Jehovah God for the gift of life but they will also show loving appreciation to one another for neighborly acts of kindness. May we show appreciation now and have the approval both of Jehovah and of our neighbor.