Talk is cheap, so the saying goes. And if our culture of click bait, hit pieces and bit pieces is any indication, talk isn't just cheap, its remarkably cheap. Nothing written or spoken seems to have any lasting value.
The Meaning of our Words
Even interpersonal phrases that should communicate something deeply moving have become throwaway expressions. “I appreciate you” has become an empty and meaningless turn of phrase. Growing up in my home country of Australia, I remember that if someone said they appreciated something you did, it truly meant something and came from a place of deep, emotional gratefulness.
“I appreciate you” should not just be something you say to the Chic-fil-a employee who gives you extra sauce with your nuggets (they have to do that, it’s their job!). While you might enjoy the extra sauce, do you really appreciate it from a place of deep, emotional indebtedness? No, I didn’t think so, and if you do, you might love Chic-fil-a a little too much. Of course, you should say “thank you”, but there’s a glaring difference from expressing a “thank you” out of politeness and social etiquette to an appreciation from the depth of one’s being.
Actions Speak Loudly
I believe what we truly appreciate in the deepest parts of our hearts can be clearly seen in our lifestyles, our lives, and our characters. What you appreciate at the deepest level of who you are is shown, not just by what you say, but by what you do. Your actions show what you love.
There are fathers who say they love their children but neglect them for their love of golf, or cars, or fill-in-the-blank. How horrendous it is when a father stands up at the Thanksgiving table in front of the very children he neglects on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and say how deeply thankful he is for them. He is a liar and a hypocrite.
Matthew 23 is a bit of a case study on how Jesus felt about hypocrites. He speaks seven woes to them for their actions including a final description of being serpents and a brood of vipers. Not to go all heavy on you, but it is a needed rebuke and warning to us that to speak something, yes even thankfulness, when our lives don’t reflect it is a serious sin.
An Uncomfortable Challenge
Likely your thankfulness has not often been challenged, but it’s worth the time of reflection. Spend some time considering whether what you say you are thankful for is reflected in the ways you live your life. If it’s not, confess, repent, and turn to Christ for cleansing. If it is, celebrate with a glad and joyous heart.
A final word to you all, although I have pressed on thankfulness being more than words, it is certainly not less than them either. Consider whether your heart, life, and actions reflect the tenor and weight of your words. And when you give thanks this season, may Christ’s continued work in you be among them.