I have given much thought recently to the words “appreciation” and “depreciation,” which play a key role in business, in the community, and in family and church life. Both words have origins in the Latin word pretium, associated with price, value, or reward – increasing or decreasing.
In business, one speaks of the appreciation of assets or money, indicating that the actual value of goods and services is increasing, perhaps because of an improved product or better marketing; or else its usefulness as a product or service is being valued more. Depreciation is used where goods and services are actually diminishing in value or are perceived to be doing so.
The importance of appreciating our assets or talents, in business or in individual lives, was confirmed by Christ Jesus in his parable of the talents. It tells how a man who was given five talents actively increased what he had and made another five talents, while a man who was given two talents also doubled his allocation. They were duly commended by their employer for their vision, as “faithful servants,” in adding value to what he had given them.
But the man who was given just one talent failed completely to appreciate it. He hid his money in the ground so that, as he thought, it would not depreciate. But when he told this to his employer, he was rebuked for not lending it to the exchangers so that he could at least get some interest on it, and his employer took the talent away.
Because Jesus’ parables were for teaching spiritual lessons to those who heard him, we might assume that he was less concerned with the priorities of the business community than with those of his own followers in their social behavior. Were they truly appreciating themselves and others, and were they daily expressing what Jesus was teaching them about the importance of valuing and improving their God-given talents and resources, especially as spiritual healers?
Joining in this call to action, Mary Baker Eddy emphasized in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” that “the talents He [God] gives we must improve” (p. 6). She also wrote: “In order to apprehend more, we must put into practice what we already know.... If ‘faithful over a few things,’ we shall be made rulers over many; but the one unused talent decays and is lost” (p. 323).
In my everyday experience, I have found that the more we appreciate the qualities we have been given by God and use them in His service, the less time and effort we waste in depreciation or criticism of ourselves or others, which avail nothing.
When she was elected British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher famously said (quoting St. Francis): “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.”
So, standing up and speaking out loud in our own voices – and with a full understanding of the abundant blessings that flow constantly from an all-loving God – we might well say: “Where there is depreciation, may we bring appreciation.” Certainly both cannot exist in the same breath; and appreciation, as the positive, must prevail.
Businesses, communities, and churches, as well as individuals, will grow stronger and richer to the extent that people insist on appreciation rather than depreciation in every aspect of their lives.
From the Christian Science Sentinel.