George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Grace of Appreciation
She hath done what she could--Mar 14:8
Appreciation Alleviates Drudgery
Few gifts are more helpful than the gift of appreciation. It is like rain on the mown grass, or sunshine falling on the flowers. When one of our Scots ministers died, a very beautiful thing was said of him. It was said that there was no one left to appreciate the little triumphs of little men. Mrs. Oliphant, too, in her Life of Edward Irving, tells us that not a little of his influence sprang from the possession of this grace. "He addressed ordinary individuals as if they were heroes and princes; made poor astonished women in tiny London apartments feel themselves ladies in the light of his courtesy; and unconsciously elevated every man he talked with into the ideal man he ought to have been." A recent essayist has divided people into minus and plus people. The minus people are those who leave us poorer, and the plus those who leave us richer. Among the latter, in the common ways of life, where there is little applause and many a weary hour, are those who have appreciating grace. It helps folks wonderfully when things are difficult to know that somebody appreciates. It is always easier to march to music. A little word of appreciation now and then would make all the difference to thousands whose day's round is very largely drudgery.
Appreciation Is Different from Flattery and Praise
One must distinguish true appreciation both from flattery and praise. Flattery is veiled insult, and praise may be condescension in disguise. Newman has said that people shrink from praise, because the right to praise implies the right to blame, and Scripture warns us with no uncertain voice against coveting the praise of man. But genuine appreciation is different from praise or flattery, and for it every heart is hungering. A story is told of Robert Browning, how once at Oxford he got a great ovation, and when someone hinted that he must hate all this, he said, "Why, I've been waiting for it all my life." Men of genius, who would scorn to stoop to the passing fashions of the hour, are as eager for appreciation as the rest of us. Just as everybody yearns for love, so everybody yearns to be appreciated. The drudgeries of life are always lightened when there is somebody who understands. There are few nobler heroism's in the world than that of those who have to toil for years without a single appreciative word.
Appreciation Is a Mark of a Noble, Generous Nature
This gift of appreciation is always the mark of a noble, generous nature, just as the constant habit of depreciating is the sign-manual of littleness. To depreciate is not to criticize, for true criticism has an eye for beauty. To depreciate is to betray an uneasy feeling of inferiority. But generous natures are always self-forgetful, and are touched with a certain sweet serenity, and so have the heart at leisure from itself. "See," said Nelson, "how that gallant fellow Collingwood takes his ship into action." There is nothing harder than to appreciate richly the men who are doing the same work as we are. The noble nature of Sir Walter Scott is never more beautifully evident than in the appreciation which he lavished on the efforts of his inferior fellow-craftsmen. When I went as assistant to Dr. Alexander Whyte, Professor Lindsay laid his hand upon my shoulder. "Never forget," he said to me, "that all Whyte's geese are swans." It was a playful warning not to lose my head when I found that the least service I could render was appreciated with amazing generosity. Little souls delight in faultfinding; big ones in appreciating. Mean folk are always minus folk; it is the great hearts who are the plus ones. They add to life and make it richer; they call out all that is best within us by the sunshine of their appreciation.
Christ Appreciated What He Saw in Others
Then one turns to the story of the Master, and sees how gloriously Christ appreciated. That was why life blossomed in His company. When the woman broke the alabaster box, He alone appreciated what it meant. When the widow cast her mite into the treasury, He saw in a flash the splendor of her giving. Others appreciated a cup of wine; He a cup of water, and that was characteristic of His life. Hating sin as no man ever hated it, because He knew the Father with such perfect intimacy, the wonderful thing about our Lord is how He appreciated the common heart. He saw the worshipping woman in the harlot, the disciple in the despised tax-gatherer, the rock in the unstable will of Simon. Common things were beautiful to Him--the lily was more wonderful than Solomon. Sparrows, of little value on the market, were in His eyes fed by the catering of God. The love of woman, the wonder of the child, the fine things lurking in the pagan breast, our Lord appreciated them all. No wonder folk came to their very best with One who could appreciate like that, and so they are doing to this hour.
Love Is the Secret of Appreciation
It only remains to add that love is the secret of appreciation. Love is not really blind; it has the most generous of eyes. Professor Henry Drummond used to say that if you buy a box, it must be flawless. But if your little son with his rough tools makes you a box, very probably it has a hundred faults. Yet you appreciate that clumsy workmanship far more than what you purchased in the market, because it's the work of the little chap you love. Love wildflowers, and you come to appreciate what to other people are but weeds. Love the hills, and you find beauties in them that other eyes are powerless to see. When love reigns, as it is going to reign when God's Kingdom is established on the earth, there will be such appreciative grace abroad that life and labor will be set to music.
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