Long-Term Benefit of Human Service
Appreciation motivates a “hunger and thirst” for righteousness that extends the benefits of human service through more people and time. We join this year’s celebration of thanksgiving and use the opportunity to discuss Christ’s teaching on appreciation as a motivator of positive human interaction.
Thanksgiving is celebrated in different parts of the world at various times. In several places, the celebration is associated with harvest and appreciation for the “fruits of the land.” Also in several places, thanksgiving is celebrated near the end of the calendar year in appreciation of all that was good during the year. For example, in several countries of North America, thanksgiving is celebrated late in the calendar year, usually a few weeks before Christmas; thus beginning a season of giving, receiving, and appreciation that lasts through the remainder of the year. People and institutions exchange gifts and greetings to appreciate each other for being who or what they are and for events of the year that brought their paths to cross.
We join in this year’s celebrations: to express our appreciation to all that interacted with our program one way or the other during the year. We thank God for you and appreciate this opportunity to learn his word and share our understanding through Banking Blessings Ministry. We celebrate this year’s interactions and use the opportunity of the celebration to discuss the value of appreciation in motivating positive human interaction.
CHRIST’S TEACHING ON APPRECIATION We examine Christ’s teaching on appreciation based on his interactions with two people he healed from persistent illness. The interactions suggest he wanted to emphasize appreciation as important to the healing, as if the healing was incomplete without it. The interactions occurred in regard to 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 enabled them to receive full benefits of the healing. However, we know based on the biblical accounts that 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 each recipient needed more than the physical healing to receive full benefit of his/her interaction with Jesus in the healing incident.
HUNGER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS His interactions with the two lead us to understand that every human service offers two potential benefits to the recipient:
- Surface-value or short-term benefit that arises from the service addressing an immediate need, such as physical healing.
- Long-term benefit that arises because the recipient’s appreciation motivates him/her to be good, not only to the provider but also to other people.
If the recipient is good to another person as a result, the other also is motivated to be good to yet others. Thus, an act of goodness whereby a person provides a service to alleviate another person’s need could benefit several more people because the recipient’s appreciation motivates him/her to be good to others that are, in turn, motivated to be good to yet others. Thus, the long-term benefit of human service lies in the potential to motivate an expanding community of people to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” [Matthew 5:6] and earn blessing as Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount. This long-term benefit is more important than the short-term benefit. Christ emphasized its value through personal interactions with the two healing recipients.
Interactions with Healing Recipients
We learn about appreciation based on Christ’s interactions with two recipients of his healing: the woman healed of long-term bleeding and the man that returned to thank God after he and nine others were healed of leprosy.
Woman Healed of Long-Term Bleeding
As we discuss in a previous bible study under Value of Appreciation, the woman had seen several doctors and spent all she had, but the bleeding got worse instead of better. She decided to take her problem to Jesus when she realized he was in the area. However, she knew getting to him would be difficult because of the large crowd around him. Therefore, she decided that just touching his garment would be sufficient: “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].
If the interaction stopped there, the woman would have gone home healed and there would have been nothing more to discuss about that. However, Jesus insisted on finding who touched his clothes, to the astonishment of his disciples. Then the woman stepped forward and “fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” [Mark 5:33]. Thereafter, 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, it was important to him that she testified publicly about her appreciation of the healing. So he looked for her until she stepped forward and testified.
Ten Men Healed of Leprosy
Jesus interacted similarly with a man he healed of leprosy. Ten men with leprosy had called for his kindness on his way to Jerusalem. 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 could 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.
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 access to something more that he needed in addition to the physical healing from leprosy.
Benefits of Human Service
We examine other Christ’s teaching on human service to understand his interactions with the two healing recipients. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Keeping Watch by Living in the Image of God, one aspect of our relationship with God is that he creates every person as a link in a complex chain of provider-receiver relationships among people, such that every person is potentially a provider of services to others or a receiver of services provided by others. (Here we use the word “service” to include “goods and services” and represent something done by a person to alleviate a need). God creates people to care for each other, expects each person to be a conveyor of his image and channel for his compassion in every human interaction, assigns people responsibilities to perform the function as he chooses, and will judge each person on performing or failing to perform the responsibilities. Every person is God’s provider assistant and will be judged on performing or declining his/her responsibilities as a channel for God’s compassion.
Parable of Good Samaritan
Christ used parables to teach this relationship between God and people. For example, he used the Parable of Good Samaritan to explain that God gives every person opportunities to provide service to alleviate another’s need. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Love through Compassion, Jesus told about a man that was attacked by robbers on a lonely stretch of road. “They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead” [Luke 10:30]. The parable, thus, defines a need and needy.
NEED AND NEEDY The need is a man was lying helpless. Total helplessness as occurred in this case is not necessary to define a need. There could be countless grades of need ranging from such extreme cases characterized by helplessness to much simpler cases. For example, a thirsty person has a need for a drink, maybe a glass of water. Also, the parable defines a needy, i.e., someone that needs a service to be provided by another person. A person’s social status is irrelevant in the definition of needy. It does not matter whether the person is rich or poor, tall or short, fast or slow. What is important is the person needs a service to be provided by another person. A person that needs a glass of water is a needy in relation to obtaining a glass of water. The concept of needy is important because it defines the potential beneficiary, i.e., service recipient, in a call to compassion.
FREEDOM TO ACCEPT OR DECLINE God issues a call to compassion (i.e., assigns a provider assistant task) by giving opportunity to a person to recognize a need and needy. In the parable of Good Samaritan, Jesus told about a chief priest and Levite that saw the robbery victim but passed without doing anything for him [Luke 10:31–32]. Each of them represents a person that chooses to decline a call to compassion. Another passer-by, a Samaritan, responded differently. He recognized the need and cared for the needy: “…and when he saw him, he took pity on him” [Luke 10:33]. His subsequent actions were motivated by his caring. He provided first aid as he could, transported the man on his donkey to an inn, cared for him overnight, and in the morning took full responsibility by paying what he could and promising to return with additional payment. His actions cover all aspects of accepting a call to compassion: he recognized the need and needy, cared about the needy, committed to providing service to alleviate the need, and persevered toward success. The biblical account does not tell us about success or failure of the needy’s treatment, but includes sufficient information to demonstrate the Samaritan showed commitment to continue the treatment until successful, by leaving a promise that amounted to an unlimited check by today’s standard: “…when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have” [Luke 10:35].
Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
Christ used the parable of the Sheep and the Goats to describe rewards for accepting God’s call to compassion and punishment for declining. As we describe in a previous bible study under Call to Compassion, Christ used the parable to describe God’s recognition of two categories of people: first, those that accept his call to compassion by performing service to alleviate a need placed in their path; second, people that decline the call by denying the service.
He likens the categorization to a shepherd separating his flock into sheep and goats. A person that performs his/her responsibilities as God’s provider assistant will inherit eternal life in the kingdom of God: [Matthew 25:34] “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’” In contrast, a person that declines God’s call to compassion will be condemned to eternal punishment in a fiery furnace prepared for the devil and his servants: [Matthew 25:41] “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” A person earns blessing by accepting God’s call to compassion or incurs punishment by declining.
The service recipient in a call to compassion also has a responsibility. The recipient is expected to appreciate the service as something that has been done to alleviate his/her need. Appreciating the service and recognizing who contributed to it leads to appreciating the human provider. Furthermore, recognizing that God placed people in position and enabled them to perform the service leads to appreciating God as the ultimate provider. The recipient’s appreciation is important because it opens opportunity for a long-term benefit as he/she becomes motivated to serve other people in the same way.
PERSISTENT BENEFIT Appreciation opens opportunities for an act of human service to continue to benefit an expanding community of people long after performance of the service. The recipient’s appreciation motivates him/her to “hunger and thirst” for an act of goodness toward other people. Thus, the recipient develops a sincere desire for righteousness that God has promised [Matthew 5:6] to guide us to fulfill. A person so motivated will surely do things that benefit others and, in turn, motivate them to be good to yet others. Thus, an act of goodness can motivate others in far away places and for a long time after its performance.
In this way, the service recipient in a call to compassion becomes a nurturing heart where benefits of the service grow and multiply. The benefits grow if the recipient understands and appreciates the service. In contrast, the benefit dies if the recipient simply takes the service but does not understand or appreciate that something has been done to alleviate his/her need. The benefit of human service dies in a taker, i.e., a person that receives service without appreciation. This is one of the reasons Christ expressed satisfaction after the woman healed of long-term bleeding testified to her appreciation and after the man healed of leprosy did the same. In contrast, he chastised the other nine healed of leprosy that did not return to thank God.
Summary of What We Learned
Appreciation unlocks the long-term benefit of human service. A person that understands and appreciates service provided to alleviate his/her need becomes a nurturing heart where benefits of the service grow and multiply. Appreciation motivates the service recipient to “hunger and thirst” for an act of goodness toward other people. Thus, the recipient develops a sincere desire for righteousness that God has promised to guide us to fulfill. A person so motivated will surely do things that benefit others and, in turn, motivate them to be good. Thus, the long-term benefit of human service arises from an act of goodness motivating an expanding community of people to be good to each other.