Do You Express Appreciation for Kindnesses?
KINDNESS is a heartwarming quality. The Creator made us so that we would want to show kindness, which really is a form of love. That this should be so is easy to understand in view of Jesus’ words: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
Even though this is true, kindness is not often shown. No doubt one reason for it is that kindness is so seldom appreciated. As an old German proverb puts it, “Ingratitude is the world’s pay.” And an English writer once said, “Brutes leave ingratitude to man.” Yes, as a rule this old world is cold, ungrateful, not appreciating kindness.
In fact, the world seems to be getting ever more so. However, this should not surprise us in view of the inspired prophecy: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be . . . unthankful.” In particular is humankind unthankful to God their Maker. They give little if any thought to the many kindnesses they daily receive from him as the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present.” How far short they come of “giving thanks always for all things”! Not appreciating God’s kindnesses to them, many parents are lax about teaching their children to appreciate kindness. As a result, we see a large proportion of the younger generation growing up without feeling any obligation to express appreciation for kindnesses received from their parents and others.—2 Tim. 3:1, 2; Jas. 1:17; Eph 5:20.
Quite likely many a kindly disposed person has become discouraged because his expressions of kindness either have not been appreciated or have selfishly been taken advantage of. Especially is this true in the marital relationship, where often the more generous one is expected to keep on giving with little appreciation being expressed on the part of the other. But let such remember Jesus’ counsel to ‘do good, not hoping for anything back, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the unthankful.’ Of course, the fact that Jesus counseled us to do good to the unthankful does not justify or excuse those who are unthankful.—Luke 6:35.
As a sincere lover of righteousness you will want to be careful in both respects. On the one hand, you will want to show kindness whenever you have the opportunity to do so and, on the other hand, you will want to express appreciation for kindnesses received. Here also the “golden rule” applies: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.”—Luke 6:31.
Perhaps the simplest way to express appreciation for a kindness shown you is to utter or, on occasion, write a few words of thanks. Words of appreciation cost little if anything, and yet what joy they bring to the one receiving them! Why? Because you show that you value the kindness received. The one who did the kindness knows that it was worthwhile showing kindness to you. It might be said that the Creator felt the same way about the kindnesses he showed to Adam and Eve. He wanted some assurance from them that they appreciated these and so he asked of them obedience in just one simple matter: not eating the fruit of a certain tree. By their disobedience they betrayed that they lacked appreciation of God’s kindnesses, and so they were no longer permitted to enjoy them.—Gen. 2:17; 3:19.
Yes, a person who neglects to express appreciation betrays a measure of selfishness and raises a question as to his having deserved the kindness. He puts himself in the same class as nine of the ten lepers whom Jesus once cured and of whom only one appreciated the kindness sufficiently to return at once and express thanks. “He fell upon his face at Jesus’ feet, thanking him.” This caused Jesus to ask: “The ten were cleansed, were they not? Where, then, are the other nine?” They lacked appreciation of kindness.—Luke 17:14-18.
Not that appreciation for kindness is limited to just words. Not at all! Here too the Scriptural counsel is fitting: “Let us love, neither [or only] in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.” You can show appreciation for kindnesses received by the very way you accept and make use of the kindnesses extended. A great help in this regard is modesty.—1 John 3:18.
Then again, you can show appreciation for kindnesses received by reciprocating in some way. There are ever so many little ways of being helpful by which you can show appreciation for hospitality received. At times it may mean your offering to help with the expenses, and doing so in sincerity.
Often the kindness consists of the loan of a book, a garden tool or some kitchen utensils. Here you can show appreciation of the kindness in several ways: by being willing to loan something you have that the other may need; also, by taking good care of what you have borrowed and returning it promptly.
However, there are times when appreciation of a kindness dictates your refusing it, as when your friends overextend themselves. Thus the Bible tells that on one occasion King David expressed a longing for water from a certain cistern. Hearing it, three of his friends risked their lives to pass through the lines of the enemy to get him the longed-for water. Did David drink that water? No, he did not, for it had been obtained at too high a price. It would have been as though he were drinking their blood, and so he offered it to Jehovah, pouring it out as a drink offering to Him. For him to have drunk the water not only would have shown a lack of respect for God’s law about the sanctity of blood, but would have betrayed an indifference to the lives of his friends, as though a mere drink of water were worth such a risk.—1 Chron. 11:17-19.
The foregoing are but a few of the ways in which you can show appreciation for kindnesses received. By so doing you bring joy to the ones showing kindness and you benefit yourself by not becoming hard and selfish, and that applies to all kindnesses, whether received from God or your fellowman.