Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thoughts on Kindness and Thankfulness

This weeks lesson from my Apples of Gold session was on kindness.  I have been thinking about this topic all week and discovered some things through searching my heart, my own life, and His word. 

When I was growing up, we were not "forced" to say thanks all the time.  In our home it was just a given that if something good was done to you that you were thankful and appreciative.  We were always told to do kind things for people and this would also show our thankfulness in our giving back to others.  Once I left my home and got out in the real world - a real job, real friends, a new family, etc - I was highly criticized for the many times I have not said "thank you" to someone who did something nice for me.  I am all about writing a thank you note, but the words have been difficult for me to say since it was not required of me as a child.  I often wondered where the criticism came from since I did "X" for them before or in return.  I didn't realize the actual words were necessary in showing my appreciativeness.  I also realized that people don't always "pay you back".  I remember time and time again being taken advantage by my giving heart and then giving up when I saw no results.  I guess I was looking for something in return.  I was reading in the bible a few months ago about this with kindness. We are expected to be kind and that we shouldn't expect anything back and that if we do, that our motive is wrong.  I began thinking and research about this subject a little more.  I think the bible highly encourages us to be kind no matter what and that you should "pay back" but that it isn't a requirement.  I think the same is sort of true for saying the words "thank you".  I think we are to be thankful and give thanks to God for all things, but I don't think that saying thank you is a requirement for an act of kindness. After all, thankfulness isn't even considered a "fruit of the spirit" like kindness is.   Let me put it this way, when you do something kind for someone, do you anticipate them (or even expect them to) saying thank you at least once? twice?  maybe you want them to go overboard?  I know for me since I wasn't taught that, I don't expect anyone to thank me.  It was suppose to be "my pleasure", right?  Now, I am not saying we shouldn't thank one another for acts of kindness, gifts, etc.  According to Etiquette 101, this is something a person should do and I know that God wants us to be thankful (although He did not define what this looks like in the bible).  I am just saying, if we are all sitting around expecting to be thanked each time we give a gift, do or say something kind, then what was our motive?  It's kind of like waiting around for someone to "pay" us back for the good deed, isn't it?  When we do something nice for someone, it should be just do something nice for someone.  All I am saying is just don't get all hung up on the return of a thankful word or deed in return.  I have been there before and all it leads to is frustration when the person doesn't.  If you really know the person, then you know their heart.  If you don't know them, then you don't know how they were raised, what they were taught, what they might be going through, etc. 

Verbally stating my thankfulness has been very difficult for me for some reason.  It is something I do work on each day and it is a requirement of my children.  I don't want it to be difficult for them to be able to say it.  I figured if I got them saying it young, it will just roll off their tongue with ease.

The main reason I felt the need to write about this is that I have mentioned before about the fact that Christians are often regarded as hypocrites and I think this is one of those things.  If we are sitting around waiting for everyone to thank us for something nice we have said or done, then our motive for kindness wasn't just an act kindness or a "my pleasure" kind of a deal...the motive was we wanted some recognition for it.  That's not to say we don't deserve the recognition for a good deed, but not all rewards we will see here on earth.  Don't forget that God sees all we do and he will recognize us for it. 

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