Do You Show Appreciation?
“Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding. . . . Highly esteem it, and it will exalt you.”—Prov. 4:5, 8.
1, 2. (a) What are some of the things in life that we ought to appreciate? (b) Just what does “appreciation” mean, and how is it shown?
THERE are many things in life that we really ought to appreciate. We should appreciate our fathers and mothers. They brought us into the world and spent a lot of time raising us. We should appreciate the care that they gave us. If we have true friends, we have good reason to appreciate them too. And what about the things we learn, the work that we do and the gifts that we receive—do we show appreciation for all these things? Oftentimes, when a gift is received the individual receiving it says, “Thank you, I appreciate it very much.” But the question might be asked: Does the individual appreciate it? Does he really wish he had been given something else, or nothing at all? What will he do with it? Just what does “appreciation” mean?
2 The word “appreciate” means “to esteem, to evaluate highly, to approve warmly.” Who are the persons that you as an individual esteem? What are the things that you evaluate highly and warmly approve? How do you show it? If there truly is appreciation, it will be evident in the things that you say and do.
3. Though there is usually a strong attachment to one’s parents, how may a child show that it really lacks appreciation for them?
3 A very young child does not really have a sense of appreciation. However, it does have a strong instinctive attachment to its father and its mother. When there is danger, it knows where to run for protection. For example, a youngster may be romping around in the yard, with its mother nearby. All of a sudden a stranger may walk into the yard, and the child may become frightened. It runs and grabs its mother and hides its head in its mother’s skirt, and it feels protected. If the mother has dealt lovingly with the child in the past, the child feels secure here. It really thinks that this is all the protection that it needs against any intruder. But the child is instinctively concerned about itself. That it may really lack appreciation for its mother and her guidance may become readily apparent in its reaction when reproved for some misconduct.—Prov. 12:1.
4. (a) In time, what may contribute to one’s appreciation for one’s parents? (b) When such appreciation does develop, how can it be shown?
4 However, when a person reaches adulthood he looks at matters altogether differently from what he did when a child. The apostle Paul said: “When I was a babe, I used to speak as a babe, to think as a babe, to reason as a babe; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a babe.” (1 Cor. 13:11) To have appreciation one must have knowledge, and that knowledge must reach the heart. As an individual grows to adulthood he acquires knowledge, and his own experiences may cause the knowledge to touch his heart. Now he comes to the point where he can appreciate or see the value of what his father and mother did for him when he was a babe. It may be that he is now raising his own children, is faced with the problems of discipline, loses sleep to look after the youngsters when they are sick, and works long hours to see that they are fed and clothed and sheltered. Now he is learning for himself the patience and loving concern that are required to bring up one’s children in “the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) These experiences may cause him and his wife to think back to the days when they were young children, and perhaps for the first time in their lives they fully appreciate what their parents did for them. Now they are able to evaluate highly and approve very warmly what their own parents did. When such appreciation develops, it is good to give expression to it, and this can be done again and again, in a variety of ways.—1 Tim. 5:4.
5. As to the attitude that even young children should cultivate toward their parents, what does the Bible say?
5 While it is to be expected that appreciation for what one’s parents have done may not come to full bloom until one reaches adulthood, even to young children the Scriptures state: “Honor your father and your mother, just as Jehovah your God has commanded you; in order that your days may prove long and it may go well with you.” (Deut. 5:16) If you honor your father and your mother, you will be showing high regard or appreciation for them.
6. (a) What have you observed that gives evidence of serious lack of appreciation on the part of children for their parents? (b) What factors may contribute to such a situation in the home, but what could help to avoid it?
6 Unfortunately, in many homes the children display a shocking and persistent lack of appreciation for their parents. (2 Tim. 3:1, 2; Deut. 27:16) The basic problem may be that the parents themselves do not appreciate their children. Perhaps they did not really want them and so do not view them in the way that is expressed in Psalm 127:3: “Look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.” Lacking such a wholesome viewpoint, perhaps the parents do not spend time with their children, do not provide them with needed parental companionship and do not answer their many questions. In other cases, it is the children who, influenced by bad associations, have failed to respond to the loving oversight of their parents. But if both parents and children earnestly apply the wholesome counsel of God’s Word it will help to prevent the development of such an unpleasant atmosphere. It should be realized, however, that merely saying that one has appreciation does not prove it. Do one’s attitude and actions on a day-to-day basis give evidence of it?
7. (a) What does a father’s willingness, or lack of it, to provide discipline show about his attitude toward his children? (b) How is such discipline to be administered?
7 In answering that question, consideration ought to be given to the attitude manifest in the home toward the giving and receiving of discipline. A father who loves his children will see to it that they receive needed discipline. (Prov. 13:24) The book of Proverbs, in the Pr fourth chapter, verse 1, urges us to appreciate discipline, saying: “Listen, O sons, to the discipline of a father and pay attention, so as to know understanding.” Discipline does not always mean chastisement inflicted by way of correction or training through suffering. The very first meaning of “discipline,” according to the dictionary, is “the treatment suited to a disciple or learner, education, development of the faculties by instruction, exercise, training, whether physical, mental or moral.” So when we read of a father’s giving discipline we should not visualize a man who simply barks orders at his children and then applies physical chastisement when they fail to do what they are told. What we are talking about is a father who really cares for his children, spends time with them and takes great interest in their physical, mental and moral development. He wants to help his children to come to know the true God and His ways as the father does. He wants them to have confidence in God’s care and in the fulfillment of everything that He has promised. (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 11:18, 19) Such a father will patiently help his children to cultivate godly qualities such as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22, 23) So, while it is true that there are times when chastisement may be needed, when the Bible says, “Listen, O sons, to the discipline of a father and pay attention, so as to know understanding,” we should think principally of a father who patiently provides mental and moral instruction for his children.
8. How should children react to parental discipline, and why?
8 Sons and daughters who honor their parents, and in this way honor God, will not rebelliously spurn such discipline. They will listen when the Scriptures tell them: “Anyone foolish disrespects the discipline of his father, but anyone regarding reproof is shrewd.” (Prov. 15:5) They will think seriously about what is written at Proverbs 4:13: “Take hold on discipline; do not let go. Safeguard it, for it itself is your life.” How do you react?
9. What does it mean to “acquire wisdom,” and how can a young person show that he appreciates its value?
9 The inspired proverbs further urge: “Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding. Do not forget, and do not turn aside from the sayings of my mouth. Do not leave it, and it will keep you. Love it, and it will safeguard you. Wisdom is the prime thing. Acquire wisdom; and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding. Highly esteem it, and it will exalt you. It will glorify you because you embrace it.” (Prov. 4:5-8) As a young person listens to the instruction of his father, accepting his discipline, he is going to acquire wisdom. He is going to learn how to put into application in his own life the things that his father has told him. He will not simply let the instruction ‘go in one ear and out the other.’ When a young person truly gets the point of that Scriptural admonition, discerning that “wisdom is the prime thing,” he will be willing to listen to his parents and will be eager to benefit from their experience in life. He will “highly esteem” or appreciate the wisdom that they impart, and especially when it is in harmony with God’s own Word, the Bible.
10. How does godly wisdom also affect the husband-wife relationship in a beneficial way?
10 When godly wisdom directs the thinking of the parents, not only will they have success in dealing with their children, but the relationship that they have with each other as husband and wife will be upbuilding and strengthening. The wife will not experience the frustration that results from doing things for an unappreciative husband, and the husband will be confident of the loyal support of his wife. Helping them to develop an appreciative spirit toward each other, the Book of divine wisdom says: “Has one found a good wife? One has found a good thing, and one gets goodwill from Jehovah.” (Prov. 18:22) Also, “the wife should have deep respect for her husband.”—Eph. 5:33.
11. Instead of demanding that her husband appreciate her, what is the better course for a wife?
11 While it is true that husbands and wives owe it to their mates to be appreciative, expressions of appreciation mean much more when they are not demanded but are won by appealing to the other person’s heart. How can this be done? While it is natural for a woman to want to be physically attractive, other things are far more important. Proverbs 31:30 says: “Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.” Even the man who may not be a believer is frequently, in time, won over by the “chaste conduct together with deep respect” on the part of his Christian wife. (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) It is the woman who proves herself to be a “capable wife,” diligent in her work, who wins the warm approval of her husband. Remember that “appreciate” means “to evaluate highly.” “Her value is far more than that of corals,” says the proverb. “In her the heart of her owner has put trust, and there is no gain lacking. She has rewarded him with good, and not bad, all the days of her life.” (Prov. 31:10-12) If one has a “good wife,” then, as stated at Proverbs 31:28, it is to be expected that he will ‘praise her.’
12. What things can cause a wife and children to appreciate their family head?
12 Similarly, a Christian husband wins the loving admiration of his wife when he displays fine qualities. If he is harsh and inconsiderate of the other members of the family, they may respect his position but find it difficult to show appreciation or to evaluate him highly as an individual. On the other hand, when he exercises his headship with a keen sense of his accountability to the one who is his head, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in imitation of that one, then it is only natural for the members of his household to respond in an appreciative manner. (1 Cor. 11:3; Matt. 11:28-30) It is not enough that he be generous with his time in dealing with persons outside the home; his own family deserves attention too. The man who spends some time each day in upbuilding conversation with his family will certainly be appreciated far more than the one who simply brings home money and then buries his head in a newspaper or gives his attention to the television set. And while his wife may admire him for helping others in the community, it is his willingness to set aside time regularly to study the Bible with her that will strengthen her love for him.
THE APPRECIATION THAT JEHOVAH SHOWS
13. (a) Even though family members may be unappreciative of one’s earnest efforts to do good, who does take note? (b) How did David show confidence in this?
13 Sometimes, even when we put forth an earnest effort to express loving-kindness to others, we meet with an unappreciative response. But we ought to realize that there is someone who sees and appreciates what we do, and that is Jehovah. David, the son of Jesse, was one who realized this. Life was made hard for him by King Saul of Israel, who, though he was David’s father-in-law, sought to break up David’s home, finally married off David’s wife Michal to another man, and repeatedly tried to kill David himself. How many people have undergone experiences that are that severe? Yet David repeatedly acted with loving-kindness toward the king. And, though David expected no appreciation from the king, he said: “Jehovah it is who will repay to each one his own righteousness and his own faithfulness.” (1 Sam. 26:23) Yes, Jehovah sees to it that the kindnesses of his servants do not go unrewarded.—Prov. 25:21, 22.
14. In what ways has Jehovah shown his loving interest in all mankind?
14 Jehovah is keenly interested in mankind, and he shows this by his generous provisions for their enjoyment. Even to people who were not worshipers of the true God, the apostles Paul and Barnabas could rightly say: “He did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts to the full with food and good cheer.” (Acts 14:17) And, under inspiration, King Solomon wrote: “I have seen the occupation that God has given to the sons of mankind in which to be occupied. Everything he has made pretty in its time. . . . I have come to know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one’s life; and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.” (Eccl. 3:10-13) It is evident that God loves the world of mankind, and he wants them to enjoy this earth, to appreciate one another and to love and appreciate him as the Creator.
15. Of all earth’s creatures, is it only humans that are objects of God’s loving concern?
15 But God’s loving concern is not limited to humankind. For, when telling his apostles of God’s love for them, Jesus Christ said: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29, 30) Think of that—God is interested even in birds that men may view as of “small value.” And why not? They, too, are the handiwork of God. Jehovah created them and preserved them through the flood of Noah’s day.
16. Yet how has God shown special fondness for his human creatures?
16 For mankind, however, God has a special fondness. It was not when forming the animals but when preparing to make humans that God said to his Son: “Let us make man in our image.” (Gen. 1:26) Even though our first human parents turned to sin, God did not grow cold in his love for the human family. Lovingly he made provisions so that all who in faith would respond appreciatively to their Creator could live forever. As Jesus explained: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
17. Why is the prospect of eternal life in the service of Jehovah such a pleasant one?
17 How delightful is the prospect of everlasting life in the service of Jehovah! He is no unappreciative Master. Even now, though our service is marred by our imperfection, he reassures us. For our encouragement he moved the apostle Paul to write to faithful Christians: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.” (Heb. 6:10) Because he had repeatedly displayed genuine faith in Jehovah, Abraham was told by God: “Your reward will be very great.” (Gen. 15:1) And concerning the “judicial decisions” of Jehovah, the psalmist wrote: “In the keeping of them there is a large reward.” (Ps. 19:11) Yes, Jehovah appreciatively rewards those who do his will, whether their acts are small or great. How does a knowledge of this marvelously appreciative attitude on the part of God affect us? Are we, in turn, responding with appreciation?
HIGHLY ESTEEMING A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
18. When it comes to enjoying a relationship with Jehovah, what situation confronts all of us?
18 Having an approved relationship with Jehovah is not something that we humans can take for granted. We are not born with it. To the contrary, our situation is like that of King David, who wrote: “Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5) None of us are exceptions. The Scriptures truthfully say: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23; also see 1 John 1:8, 10.) But Jehovah has provided the means by which we can gain his approval.
19, 20. What is the only means by which we can enter into a relationship with Jehovah, and why is it such a grand privilege to serve him?
19 When we pause to think of what humans are in comparison with God, that provision should touch our hearts. Anyone who has traveled by airplane knows that, even from a few thousand feet up, humans virtually disappear from sight and their homes and cars look like toys. From his far loftier position, then, as Jehovah looks down on the earth, how small and insignificant humans must appear to him! (Isa. 40:15) Is it any wonder that the psalmist wrote: “When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have prepared, what is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?”—Ps. 8:3, 4.
20 Yet, to us mortal humans this High and Lofty One, the Creator, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, extends the opportunity to have a relationship with him. And to make it possible, he sent his only-begotten Son to earth to lay down his life as a sin-atoning sacrifice. That Son, Jesus Christ, himself explained: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” He also told his apostles: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 3:16; 14:6) Following his own death and resurrection, Jesus commanded his disciples: “You will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Appreciating the grand privilege that it is to serve in this way, they did what he told them.
21. During the past year, how did persons around the earth demonstrate that they highly esteem a good relationship with God?
21 As a result, people in all parts of the earth have become acquainted with Jehovah, the only true God, and his Son Jesus Christ. This past year in 207 lands people were being thus aided by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Some took to heart what they heard. These saw the need to repent of their former course, to turn around and use their lives in the doing of God’s will. On coming to appreciate the marvelous provision made by God to redeem mankind from bondage to sin and death, they gladly disowned themselves and got baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah to do his will. (Matt. 16:24; 28:19, 20) It was not just a few who took this important step. In 181 lands individuals were baptized during the past year. All together, 297,872 persons presented themselves for baptism by Jehovah’s witnesses during the period of just one year. All of them are persons who have studied the Bible, know what it teaches and do not hold back from making public declaration of their faith. (Rom. 10:9, 10) They earnestly applied themselves in order to qualify for baptism because they highly esteem a good relationship with God. Do you, too, have such appreciation? Grand blessings, both now and in the future, are in store for those who do.
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Parents who really love their children will see that they get needed discipline—not merely chastisement, but personal instruction that promotes mental and moral development