Extending Long Term Benefit of Human Service:
Christ’s Teaching on Appreciation
We examine Christ’s teaching on appreciation based on his interactions with people that he healed. The interactions suggest he wanted to emphasize appreciation as an aspect of the healing process, as if the healing was incomplete without appreciation. We examine accounts regarding a woman he healed of long-term bleeding and a man that was the only one of ten that returned to thank him for healing them of leprosy. In both cases, he appeared to be telling them and us that their appreciation was necessary for them to receive full benefits of the healing. We know the physical healing was complete in each case before the recipient stepped forward to show appreciation. Therefore, his interactions with them lead us to understand that more than the physical healing was needed to complete the healing process.
BENEFITS OF HUMAN SERVICE Examination of these interactions lead us to understand that every human service offers two potential benefits to the recipient: a short-term benefit that arises from the service addressing an immediate need, such as physical healing; and a long-term benefit that arises because appreciation by the recipient motivates him/her to seek to be good to the provider and an expanding human community around the provider. We believe that this long-term benefit is more important than the short-term benefit and is the reason Christ wanted recipients of his favor to show appreciation and congratulated them after they did.
Woman Healed of Long-Term Bleeding
We discussed this healing in a previous bible study at This_Link, but re-visit it in this study because it provides additional insight about appreciation that was not discussed within the scope of the previous study. The woman suffered from bleeding problems for twelve years, saw several doctors and spent all she had, but the problem got worse instead of better. She decided to take her problem to Jesus when she realized he was in the area. However, she knew that getting to him would be difficult because of a large number of people crowding around him. Therefore, she decided that just touching his garment would be sufficient to heal her: “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed” [Mark 5:28]. She squeezed through the crowd and touched his cloak. Her bleeding stopped immediately and “she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” [Mark 5:29].
WHO TOUCHED MY CLOTHES? Jesus insisted on finding who touched his clothes, to the astonishment of his disciples. The woman stepped forward and “fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” [Mark 5:33]. In the previous bible study, we emphasized the woman giving testimony about her healing. However, a testimony is a proclamation of appreciation of God. Therefore, by giving a testimony, she announced her appreciation of God and explained why she appreciated him.
After her testimony, Jesus told her that her faith had healed her: “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” [Mark 5:34]. Jesus had looked for her as if something was missing and was satisfied after she proclaimed her appreciation of what God had done for her. If her physical healing alone was all he cared about, then he would not have looked for her, because she was healed when she touched him. However, her appreciation of God and testifying publicly to the appreciation were important to him. So he looked for her until she stepped forward and testified. We examine this further to understand what Christ was trying to tell us about appreciation.
Ten Men Healed of Leprosy
Ten men with leprosy came to Jesus on his way to Jerusalem and called for his kindness. He asked them to go and show themselves to the priests [Luke 17:11–14]. The priests had authority to declare that someone had leprosy and therefore should live isolated or that someone had been healed and can re-integrate into society. Therefore, telling the men to go show themselves to the priests was the same as telling them they had been healed and should go for an examination so the priests could confirm their healing. The men obeyed by faith and were healed while on their way to show themselves to the priests.
ONE MAN RETURNED TO GIVE THANKS When he realized he was healed, one of the men returned, threw himself down at Jesus’ feet, and thanked him for the healing. Jesus asked about the other nine: “Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner” [Luke 17:18]? It happened that the nine that did not return were Israelites and the one that returned was a Samaritan. Then he told the man to rise and go, that his faith had made him well. Again, like in the case of the woman healed of long-term bleeding, Christ appeared to be telling us that coming back to show appreciation allowed the man to gain access to something more that he needed in addition to the physical healing from leprosy.
Appreciation in Human Interaction
Christ’s reaction to appreciation in these two healing incidents appears to tell us that there are two aspects to a healing. The first is the physical healing, which in the case of the woman occurred as soon as she touched Jesus’ garment, and in the case of the man occurred on his way before he decided to return to Jesus. The second aspect is something they received after they showed appreciation to God. He confirmed the healing complete in each case after the recipient showed appreciation. To understand this better, let us recall aspects of his earlier teaching on living in the image of God as they relate to appreciation.
HUMILITY BREEDS APPRECIATION Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth [3rd Beatitude, Matthew 5:5]. As we discussed in a previous bible study at This_Link, this Beatitude calls for humility toward God and other human beings. Humility toward another person includes a recognition that the person could be the provider of a service that you need. This relationship arises from the understanding that God creates every person as a potential provider to others and a potential receiver of services provided by others. One way to motivate another person’s willingness to provide is to present yourself with a promise of appreciation: i.e., an attitude that conveys to the other person a recognition that you could have a need that can best be satisfied by him/her, you deeply appreciate the person’s role in your life and are prepared to play a similar role when given the opportunity. Therefore, the mutual provider-receiver relationship that God created among people is nurtured by mutual humility and promise of appreciation.
APPRECIATION MOTIVATES GOODNESS A person that appreciates a service provided by another person will desire to do something good for the service provider or for other people and situations important to the service provider. Therefore, appreciation motivates a person to seek to be good to other persons. Seeking to be good to other people amounts to a “hunger and thirst for righteousness” [4th Beatitude, Matthew 5:6] and motivates a person to be sensitive to the needs of other persons and the community. Sensitivity to the needs of others means being prepared to provide for them, which feeds into God’s purpose for mutual provider-receiver relationships among people. Appreciation, therefore, takes people closer to fulfilling God’s purpose for each person to be a channel for his compassion to others.
LONG TERM BENEFIT OF HUMAN SERVICE Therefore, we can see that Christ’s teaching about appreciation through his interaction with the two healing recipients is not limited to healing but applies to every human service.
A human service offers two potential benefits to the receiver. First, the service addresses an immediate need of the receiver. For example, an immediate need for physical healing was addressed in the case of the woman healed of long-term bleeding and the man healed of leprosy. For a child that needs a ride to school, the immediate need is transportation to school. Addressing an immediate need satisfactorily is the first benefit that a human service offers to the receiver. That is the short-term benefit. Additionally, human service offers a more important potential benefit to the receiver that is anchored on the receiver’s appreciation of the service. The receiver’s appreciation motivates him/her to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and triggers an ever-growing chain of provider-receiver interactions that bring people closer to fulfilling God’s purpose. This would explain why Jesus looked for the woman until she stepped forward and confirmed her appreciation and why he congratulated the man for returning to show appreciation. The long-term benefit of human service is anchored on the receiver’s appreciation and is released if the receiver truly appreciates the service in his/her heart.
PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL BENEFITS A taker or indifferent receiver is a person that receives goods or services without caring how they have been provided. A taker receives the short-term benefit of goods and services provided to him/her but forgoes the long-term benefit.
The real and lasting benefit of human service actually is the long-term benefit. Whereas the short-term benefit is physical and short-lived, the long-term benefit is spiritual and lasts a lifetime. People that appreciate what they receive are motivated to be good to others and are sensitive to needs around them: needs of self, other persons, and community. A person that appreciates goods and services received from others is motivated to be a provider (God’s provider assistant) to others and is sensitive to the needs around him/her in order to recognize opportunities to be a provider. The benefit can go a long way, because a person more sensitive to needs also will be more aware of opportunities.
Appreciation is often a three-step process that begins with one appreciating the value of goods or services received, which leads to the person appreciating the human provider of the goods or services and God for placing the human provider in position. Trying to jump one or two of the steps will likely result in substituting lip service for appreciation.
To be heart-felt, appreciation has to be rooted in a deep feeling of satisfaction, gratitude, and indebtedness for the goods or services received. Such feeling leads to appreciating the human provider and appreciating God for positioning and equipping the provider to perform the service. Attempting to jump any of the first two steps to appreciate God will result in paying lip service to him. It is difficult to appreciate God whom you have not seen without appreciating a fellow human being whom you have seen that has provided for your need as God placed in his/her path [cf. 1 John 4:20]. Therefore, it is important to recognize the goods and services that you receive, no matter how small or insignificant they might appear; identify the persons that have contributed to providing the goods or services to you; appreciate them for what they have done; and appreciate God for positioning them to do it.
Summary of What We Learned
Every human service offers a short-term physical benefit and a long-term spiritual benefit to the receiver. The long term benefit is triggered by the receiver’s appreciation of the service and provider. Appreciation triggers the long-term benefit by motivating hunger and thirst for righteousness, which in turn motivates the person to be sensitive to the needs of self, others, and community. Christ taught about appreciation through interactions with recipients of his healing, e.g., the woman healed of long-term bleeding and a man healed of leprosy. In both cases, his interactions suggest that he considered their appreciation necessary to receive full benefits of the healing.