1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Remember that thing you did that one time for your friends? The one where you spent extra time, energy, or money for them? They weren’t that grateful, were they?
It left you feeling unappreciated, alone, hurt, used, demotivated, and wondering if the other(s) were still your friend(s). Or it left you feeling like you were invisible, that no cared if your contribution made a difference or not.
Proverbs 15:23 – A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
I don’t think any one of us is exempt facing a situation where our actions are unappreciated. Not even Jesus could escape this human circumstance. Nobody was quite undervalued like He was.
What would Jesus say to us if we were facing this situation?
Matthew 6:1-4 – “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
Note that right off the bat we have to check our motives. Are we doing things so people will tell us they appreciate us? Jesus did a lot of things for people He knew would never appreciate what He did. Secondly, if no one were to appreciate anything you did ever, the Father sees and values what you are doing. In fact, He’d rather you not go back and get recognized for an act, because He feels He can leave you blessed better than getting public attention for what you did. Personally, I have to tell this to myself over and over sometimes when I’m down.
This trust is difficult because we want affirmation, we crave affirmation, we need affirmation. We look for it with the intensity of a magnet waiting to jump to connect with another one.
Before you misunderstand what I’m saying, note the first two verses quoted. We should, as a normative, operative function, encourage one another and tell them we value their efforts. I enjoy when people take the time to voice their appreciation for the things I do, and I know that others do as well. We should make an active effort to notice others’ deeds and affirm them.
It’s like water poured out on dry ground.
Proverbs 25:11 – A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
I appreciate the words of Jesus in Matthew in this way: it’s clear that we as humans are unreliable. Just look at your own experience. There’s no way that among friends, or even in a close married couple, everything will be noticed and affirmed, even with purposeful others. The Father has freed us from relying on inconsistent, fallible humans by promising to care for us Himself. Knowledge of our own shortcomings should give us grace for the shortcomings of others.
However, we still have an obligation to affirm the acts of others. By our own need we sense the need of others. We can’t assume anyone else will affirm what they have done. It’s our responsibility to speak a blessing into their lives. Let others know you appreciate what they’ve done. This is still something I have a yet to build a proficiency in.
Rely on God for affirmation; give into the lives of others. Don’t depend on others, but treat appreciation from them as a treasured gift. Hopefully gratefulness is a skill we all will develop. Remember, if you’re feeling unappreciated, God understands. He’s been there.
By the way, let the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit know that you appreciate them. I’m sure they love to hear it as much as we do.