The second part of the process of thanksgiving, after noticing something worthwhile, is to appreciate that worth. It doesn’t matter whether or not you see something wonderful or beautiful or joyful if you don’t appreciate the fullness it brings to your life, even if only for a moment.
To appreciate is to increase the value of something—perhaps by simply realizing that it’s there, perhaps by seeing it afresh in a way that makes it more than it was before in your eyes. When a house appreciates in value, it is because it has been evaluated at a higher price than previously believed. When we appreciate someone that person’s value increases to us, in our evaluation and in our estimation.
I am not talking here about the intrinsic value that we all have by being loved by God, who showed that love by sending His Son into the world at Christmastime. Instead, I’m talking about perceived value, the value we assign which may or may not be an accurate assessment.
But that’s the trick, isn’t it: to appreciate accurately, to value highly what is highly valuable. Too often we place (and often pay) too high a price for something that is not worth the cost. Whatever currency we pay this cost in, whether dollars or desire, the danger lies in our value system being turned upside down. When that happens, we begin to believe that only what demands our attention is worth our appreciation.
Do you appreciate being still and knowing that God is God (Psalm 46:10, NIV)? Do you appreciate God speaking to you, even if it is with a “gentle whisper” (I Kings 19:11-13, NIV)? Do you appreciate the relatively quiet and unpretentious scene at the manger in Bethlehem, and draw strength from, like Mary, “treasuring and pondering these things” in your heart (Luke 2:19)? If not, maybe spending time at the manger over the next couple of weeks would help set your system of evaluation right side up.
Live in appreciation of the wonder, the beauty, and the joy that is Christ, especially during this Christmas season.