The Power to Bless:
Part 1 - The Power of Appreciation
May 24, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Brothers and sisters in Christ, Good morning! This morning Iíd like to begin a series of sermons and talk about a great power that you have. You have a remarkable power within you, a power that can make the world a better place, a power that can make your life more meaningful and happier. Itís a wonderful power. And itís available to each and every one of us. Itís available to you whether you are six or 98. Itís available to you whether you deal with hundreds of people each week or if youíre in a hospital bed. And, my friends, that power is called the power of blessing. You have the power to bless. I want us to talk about that remarkable power today and over the next few weeks.
This morning Iíd like to begin with a very foundational idea of blessing called appreciation. The power of appreciation is the title and the topic of this particular installment of the series. You see, the power of appreciation is an inside thing. Itís a posture of the heart. It is a state of consciousness. It is a conscious decision where you say to yourself, I am deciding to be an appreciator. Thatís my prayer for you today, that each and every one of you will make a personal commitment and a personal decision in your heart to be an appreciator.
Letís see what that means together. It seems to me that our lives are geared in such a way that there is a great temptation, instead of being an appreciator, to be a critic Ė a critic of others, a critic of life, and perhaps a critic of ourselves. This morning Iím going to invite you to let the critics stay to the side, and become an appreciator today.
A dear friend of mine who was a lay leader of a church I served previously was asked by the district superintendent to deliver a message to the district clergy. Iíll never forget the way he began his message. He got up in front of the clergy, and he said, ďDistinguished clergy, thereís something Iíd like to tell you. Iíd like to tell you what we lay people really expect of our clergy. Itís really very simple. There are only two things, and they are easy to remember because theyíre the same two things we expect of ourselves. Number one: Everything. And number two: Perfection. Everything else is negotiable.Ē
How about that? Is that the way we go through life? Is that what we expect of life, of others, and of ourselves? Everything and perfection? My friends, I would suggest to you that life can be happier than that. Letís be appreciators. Letís decide today to appreciate the world we live in. letís appreciate other people and life and ourselves.
But first, letís take a look at what the Bible has to say about this. Take a look at Ephesians 1, verse15. You tell me if St. Paul is an appreciator or not when he speaks to the people at Ephesus.
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.
What love! What appreciation! Letís reflect it, shall we? St. Paul doesnít say, ďWell, you know, people of Ephesus, you could do better. No! He says, ďI know about your love; I know about your faith. Iím giving thanks to God for you. I appreciate you.Ē What a great spirit; what a great spirit to reflect!
So, Iím suggesting, my friends, that we go into the week and say, ďAm I an appreciator? Do I appreciate others? For instance, for the people in our immediate life, do we have a tendency to say, ďThis could be betterĒ or ďHe has this little quirkĒ or ďThis isnít quite rightĒ? Donít we tend to ignore the 80%, the 90% that is right?
Letís be appreciators. Letís avoid the burnt-toast syndrome, where we get mad at someone because the toast is burnt. Letís let that go and appreciate the fact that they were there for you late in the night at that crisis time, that they were there for you when things were hard, that they are consistent friends. Letís appreciate the other people in our lives.
How about our children? What if our child comes home with a report card with 4 Cís, 2 Bís, and one A? What are we going to say? Itís up to us. Are we going to criticize those Cís and draw attention to them or say that the Bís should have been Aís? Or, can we say, ďI am so proud of you. You got an A. tell me what it was like to get that A? And look at those Bís. Bís are better than Cís. And these Cís Ė I know youíre trying in those classes. Letís see what happens as we move to the future. I am proud of you for doing so well.Ē
Well, my friends, if we reward every step in the right direction, Iíll bet more steps can be taken in the right direction. Isnít that how you and I would like to be treated? Be an appreciator of others in your world.
On this Memorial Day weekend, letís be appreciators of our military. There are men and women serving in uniform in foreign countries and difficult circumstances. They really donít want to be there, but theyíre committed to being there because they believe in America, like we believe in America. We want to say thank you to them. And so, should you run into a person in uniform, whether or not you know the person, take a moment to say, ďI appreciate what youíre doing. I know itís a sacrifice. Thank you.Ē Letís be appreciators of our folks in uniform.
Second, letís be appreciators of God and appreciators of life. You know, when I think of the word appreciation one thing that comes to mind is art. Art appreciation courses help us to see things that we didnít see before and enjoy things that we didnít enjoy before. Canít we look at life and at God that way, too?
Speaking of art, I had a professor, Professor Reinhart, a dear friend of mine, a great historian and scholar of art. I was in his home once, and over his piano was a picture of a farm, a very green hill. There was a cow in the picture, and a barn. I thought to myself that this was not the kind of picture youíd find in an art history book. I asked him about the picture. He said, ďOh, thatís a picture of the farm I grew up on. A neighbor painted that picture for me. I know what youíre thinking,Ē he said. ďYouíll not find this in any art history book. But I look at it, and it makes me smile.Ē Isnít that great? He appreciated that painting for what it was. Shall we not appreciate our lives for what they are?
Do you ever hear people say, ďWell, if there was a God, then this wouldnít happenĒ? What about all the other things that are great? What about all the things in your life and mine that are absolutely miraculous and wonderful? Canít we look at them and say, ďDear God, I appreciate You and I appreciate this life You have given me. Yes, there are mysteries and there are things I canít explain, and there are things I want to talk over with You when I get to the other side. But dear God, You have given me such a wonderful life. You have blessed me so richly. Lord, I appreciate You.Ē Wonít you look at it that way?
Oh, and one more thing before we go Ė appreciate yourself. Howís your inner critic doing? Is it turned up full blast? Do you find yourself lecturing yourself about the items on your to-do list that didnít get checked off and the things you wish you had done better or differently? Can you let them go a little bit and appreciate yourself for the things you are doing and the things youíve done well, for the things that were successful, for the positive difference youíve made in the lives of the other people in your life? Give yourself some credit; give yourself some slack. Above all, give yourself some appreciation for doing the best you can. Tomorrow is another day.
And so, my dear friends, the power of blessing is yours. The power to appreciate is yours. And itís a mighty power indeed, to make the world a better place and to make yours a happier, more successful, more abundant life. Letís practice the art of appreciation, shall we? And letís discover more about the power of blessing next week. God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski