Sunday, October 9, 2016

Why we Should Live Lives with a Spirit of Appreciation

2 Kings 5:14-15 (GNT): Living with a Spirit of Appreciation
So Naaman went down to the Jordan, dipped himself in it seven times, as Elisha had instructed, and he was completely cured. His flesh became firm and healthy like that of a child. He returned to Elisha with all his men and said, “Now I know that there is no god but the God of Israel; so please, sir, accept a gift from me.”

We are often tempted, even though we know better, to live life with a spirit of expectation. We expect positive life outcomes to happen as we work toward and plan for them. We expect to live our lives according to the neat routines we establish. We expect, moreover, God’s love and mercy to operate in our lives regardless of our attitude, even if it means being less-than-charitable toward our neighbor. Living our lives with the spirit of appreciation, conversely, breaks the confining mold of tepid expectation. Appreciation allows us to live each moment, knowing that every breath, every step, every heartbeat, and every smile is a gift from God.

In 2 Kings 5, a non-Israelite and accomplished Syrian soldier, Naaman, is plagued with leprosy. Any leper during this time, would be ostracized and sent to live away from the established community, and Naaman, in his desperation for healing, considers this fate. An indentured slave girl, one captured during a war with Israel, tells Naaman, her master, that he should seek the Israelite prophet Elisha for healing. Naaman is granted permission to go to Israel and seek the prophet Elisha. Once Naaman follows Elisha’s advice and is healed of his leprosy, his heart is full of appreciation, seeking to give all the riches he has brought on the journey to this powerful prophet. But Elisha, in giving glory to God, refuses to accept Naaman’s gifts. What happens, in effect, is Naaman’s spirit of appreciation converts him. He acknowledges, “Now I know that there is no god but the God of Israel.” Naaman’s faith in God is born through the grace and miracle of God’s healing, and his appreciative spirit is the abundant fruit of that new faith.

In the same way, Jesus Christ invites us to live a life of thanksgiving. For it is through Christ’s salvific love and the gift of faith that we, too, are healed. It is an easy temptation, however, to take this abundant gift for granted, a temptation that I know all too well. If we keep in mind, however, God’s abundant love and that every moment, breath, step, heartbeat, and smile are his gifts, we can live emulating a spirit of appreciation in all that we do. And in that spirit of thanksgiving, our lives become the beacon of hope for others, giving glory to God in the little moments of our lives.