Summary: With social distancing, we've appreciated things like Face Time and Zoom. When businesses started opening up people appreciated them more than ever. But we shouldn't need separation in order to show appreciation.
To appreciate means to value something or somebody highly. On Wednesday night I asked, 'what have you come to appreciate more since COVID started'. Based on some of the answers it was clear that people are most appreciative of people and the things that helped them to deal with being alienated from them. They appreciated the technology that enabled them to do things like Face Time and Zoom.
Since we've had to be separated from people, having things like that helped to make that separation more bearable. I'm sure when local businesses started opening up people appreciated them more than ever. When we're separated from something or someone we appreciate their value more. However, we shouldn't have to be separated from them in order to show more appreciation for them.
1) We need to appreciate things.
When we see verses like Matt. 6:19-20 where Jesus told us to store up treasures in heaven, not treasures on earth and vs. 33 where he says, 'seek first the kingdom of God', we might think that it's wrong to enjoy our material possessions. But that's not true.
1st Tim. 6:17, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."
The point is we shouldn't put our trust in money or make the pursuit of material things our priority in life. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy them. We see here that God gives us things for our enjoyment. We can take pleasure in the material things God blesses us with.
It's fun to get something new. When someone gives you a gift you get excited. Or if there's something you've been saving up for and you finally get it you enjoy it. That's not wrong; you don't have to feel guilty about that. God wants you to enjoy it.
However, if you spent your rent money on something for yourself or if every time you get some extra money you spent it on yourself instead of saving it or blessing someone else, that would be wrong. The parable of the rich fool in Luke 12 showed us it's not wise to be selfish. But in the right context, we can enjoy the things we have.
But we need to make sure we appreciate these things. Have you ever seen people who weren't appreciative of anything. They didn't take care of it or treat it as special. Not that we're supposed to worship material things, but we are supposed to take care of them and show that these things are important to us.
When we do this we show that the person who gave it to us is important. Sometimes the gift isn't costly but it's valuable to us because we value the person who gave it to us. So we show our appreciation for the gift mainly because we appreciate the gift-giver. We recognize the care and thoughtfulness of the person who picked it out and gave it to us.
We need to do that with what God gives us. Even the everyday things. It might be easy to overlook the need to appreciate things like the clothes on our back, roof over our head, food on the table, a car that runs, a job to go to, etc. But we should stop and take a minute to be thankful for these things.
I said earlier that we appreciate things more when we have to go without them. It's easy to lose appreciation for the everyday things like food and shelter but if we were hungry and homeless I'm sure the appreciation would come back quick. We take for granted that our car starts every day when we leave for work until the day it doesn't start. We complain about our job until the day we're let go.
God may need to send us a message if we fail to appreciate the blessings he gives us. It's ok to enjoy material things but it's important to show appreciation to God and others for the material blessings we have.
2) We need to appreciate people.
Sometimes people don't feel appreciated. They do for others or go out of their way for someone and receive little thanks for it. Instead of being appreciated they feel taken for granted. So it's nice when people extend appreciation for the things you do or what you mean to them.
I received a card this week where the sender showed appreciation for me and our friendship. Not that I felt unappreciated but the card showed the person wanted to remind me of what they were appreciative for. There have been many people in the church who have shown their appreciation to me time after time.