A friend with whom I visit several times a year never misses an opportunity to express appreciation. Regardless of the occasion, an appreciative note comes in the mail a few days after I've seen him. ''Thanks for sharing your idea about . . . . Thanks for bringing down the peach jam . . . . Thanks for helping me fix the . . . .'' Each note is heartfelt.
This impulsion to express appreciation comes to us from God, divine Love. And because our true selfhood is created by Him, is the very likeness of Love, it is entirely natural for us to recognize and appreciate the good that surrounds us. It is abnormal to be unappreciative. So destructive criticism can - and should - become more and more foreign to us.
One day I asked my friend why he is so appreciative. He explained that criticism and blaming were rampant in the home where he was raised. He said: ''When I was introduced to Christian Science, I learned that each one of us is a beloved child of God. I vowed to quit blaming and criticizing and to look for the true man that divine Love has created.'' Then he mentioned this passage from Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesm by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy: ''Divine Love corrects and governs man.'' n1
n1 Science and Health, p. 6.
My friend wants to be obedient to Christ Jesus' command to ''love one another.'' n2 This isn't just a desire to say and do kind things, but his way of expressing God's love. He spends so much time appreciating the good in others that he has little time for criticism. I have never known him to depreciate another or himself.
n2 See John 15:12.
There was a man in Christ Jesus' day, named Zacchaeus, who apparently felt quite unappreciated. He was very rich, a collector of taxes, and was looked upon as a sinner. When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming down the path, he climbed a tree so that he might see the Master.
When Jesus saw him, he said, ''Zac-chaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.'' The Bible continues, ''And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.'' Zacchaeus then told the Master that he would give half of his possessions to charity and that if he had cheated anyone, he would repay that individual four times as much.
Not even the despised Zacchaeus was outside God's love. Jesus comforted and encouraged him, saying, ''This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.'' n3 Imagine how appreciated Zacchaeus must have felt after being told that he was a cherished member of the family of faith, ''a son of Abraham''!
n3 See Luke 19:1-10.
The teachings of Christian Science emphasize the fact that each of us is created by God to express His love. No one is created to hate, blame, or criticize. Man is the very offspring of divine Love, of Love's tender nature, and so it's not only natural but inevitable that we express patience, forgiveness, and unselfishness.
Not one of God's offspring is unloved or unknown by Him. Man, created by God, lives at the very standpoint of His devotion. So we have every right to feel, and manifest, His constant love.
Evil may suggest, ''There is nothing here to appreciate. This job is meaningless.'' Or, ''This person is impossible.'' Evil would blind us to the good at hand. In every legitimate endeavor, in every individual, there is good to identify and appreciate.
This is not to suggest that one ignore evil. We should challenge and rebuke evil whenever it tempts us to believe that God's goodness is absent. We must vigilantly protect our appreciative view of ourselves and others - protect our understanding of man's true, spiritual nature.
Certainly Jesus confronted the evil that sometimes gripped his disciples, but it was always in the context of purposeful, healing love.
So, rather than be offended or awed by our brother's apparent fault, we can help him. Surely divine Love has not made us to be harsh and condemnatory with one another. Let's live the love that is native to us as children of God. We can strengthen each other's grasp on good through genuine and Christlike appreciation. DAILY BIBLE VERSE See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently I Peter 1:22