Appreciation, when it is properly expressed, is two-dimensional. You probably recognized that in verse 2 of today’s reading:
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul appreciated the evidence of life change he observed in the Thessalonian believers (horizontal), and he expressed gratitude to God because of it (vertical).
Assuming you recognize the blessing of specific people in your life, do you see the vertical dimension to that? They are gifts from God.
You can see that in a spouse. Remember Genesis 2:18? God said, ““It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” He made Eve and brought her to Adam as a gift.
You can see that in a child. Psalm 127:3 expresses it like this: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” If you have children, they are a gift from God.
In fact, according to James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” This reality does not only apply to God’s material provision or His supply of good health. Even those people in our lives that bless us are part of His wonderful care.
Who are the people you appreciate most? Pause and thank God for them. In whom do you see evidences of life change wrought by the hand of God? Take time to express gratitude to your heavenly Father. Make sure that your appreciation is expressed to the One who is ultimately responsible.
But don’t stop there. Do what Paul did here in these lines. Express to the other people as well how you feel about them. Let them know that you see them as a gift from God. Make sure that you point to specific ways in which their work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope have intersected with your life in a meaningful way.