Summary: According to one researcher, one of the characteristics of a strong family is "appreciation" or thankfulness for others in my family. Why do we find this so hard to do, and how do we train ourselves to be appreciative?
OPEN: Back in the 70’s, a woman wrote an article I found interesting. She said that her cousin had invited them to “Come for a thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, March 20th.”
She wrote: “She was not celebrating an early Thanksgiving. She was saying that all was well with her husband, who had finished a battery of hospital tests.
“In our family,” she said “we sometimes have as many as ten thanksgivings in one year.
They mark happy events for which there are no formal celebration dates: a job promotion, a graduate degree, a good medical report. Sometimes we celebrate with a dinner party, sometimes with a picnic or outing, but always with as many members of our clan as we can round up.”
10 Thanksgivings a year… can you imagine what that would do to your diet???
And yet here in Colossians 3:17 we’re told that 10 Thanksgivings a year would not be enough for a Christian that tried to follow Paul’s advice: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
In WHATEVER we do… every day of every year… we should be giving thanks. We should be known as a “thankful people”.
In fact, Colossians 2:7 declares we should be“…overflowing with thankfulness.”
And in Ephesians 5:20 we’re told that we should be “…ALWAYS giving thanks to God the Father FOR EVERYTHING, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I. We - as Christians - should be known as a thankful and grateful people.
And that should be true of us in EVERY aspect of our lives. Especially – it should be true in our homes and in how we deal with our families.
ILLUS:A few years ago Dr. Nick Stinnett of the Univ. of Nebraska conducted a series of studies in an attempt to discover what characteristics were common in strong families. He and his researchers discovered six qualities. And the first quality and one of the most important to be found in strong families was that of appreciation. They concluded that families which were strong were strong because family members expressed appreciation for what each member DID and for who they WERE.
In a similar study another researcher looked into the effect of praise in the workplace.
His study showed that the ratio of praise to criticism in the workplace needed to be 4 to 1 before employees felt that there is a balance - that there had be 4 times as much praise as there was criticism before those employees felt good about their work and about the environment they worked in.
(Both studies were reported in Richard J. Fairchild’s "Gratitude-A Necessary Attitude" 2001)
This tells us that people need appreciation. They need praise. And they need these things 4 times as often as they receive criticism to have a healthy environment at work or home.
II. Many families don’t understand this basic reality
ILLUS: A few years back I read about a man who always teased his wife about her lack of interest in household chores. One day he came home with a gag gift – a refrigerator magnet that read: “Martha Stewart doesn’t live here.”
The next day he came home to find the magnet holding up a slip of paper. The note read: “Neither does Bob Vila.”
Now that was meant as good humored fun, but there are homes where those kind of comments are not meant to be funny. They’re intended to be offensive. They’re meant to hurt… to cause pain.
Even in the best of homes, there are harsh words and occasional hard feelings.
(pause…) WHY does that happen? Well there are a number of reasons why it might… but one of the most basic reasons there are harsh words and hard feelings in a home is when there is a lack of thankfulness. When parents or children forget the blessing that their wife/ husband/ child/ parent actually is to them.
ILLUS: Sometimes it’s only a matter of perspective. One young college woman supposedly wrote home to her mother:
“Dear Mom: Sorry I haven’t written sooner. My arm really has been broken. I broke it, and my left leg, when I jumped from the second floor of my dormitory...when we had the fire. We were lucky. A young service station attendant saw the blaze and called the Fire Department. They were there in minutes. I was in the hospital for a few days.
Paul, the service station attendant, came to see me every day. And because it was taking so long to get our dormitory livable again, I moved in with him.
He has been so nice. I must admit that I am pregnant. Paul and I plan to get married just as soon as he can get a divorce.