Text: I Thessalonians 5:9-15
I. There is a deep seat desire in every person to be important
A. “Everyone likes a compliment.” - Abraham Lincoln
B. “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” - William Jones
II. Satan understands this
A. Sin has its foundations in our desires - James 1:13-16
B. One avenue that Satan uses is “pride of life” - I John 2:16-17
C. Satan used this to tempt Eve - Genesis 3:6
D. In a sense, pride is a warping of our natural desire to be appreciated.
E. A desire to belong, a desire to be appreciated, is what drives people together. It is what stirs people to create great works. But is it also what lures people into gangs and crime - Proverbs 1:10-16
III. What defines your character is how you find yourself feeling important
A. Most of the world defines importance by authority - Matthew 20:25
B. Some find importance in having things named after them
1. Millionaires financed Admiral Byrd’s expedition to Antarctica with an “understanding” that mountain ranges found would be named after them.
2. Not that it truly makes a difference in the long run - Ecclesiastes 2:16
3. Can anyone name one of those millionaires or the mountains named after them?
C. Others try forcing importance through demands
1. “People sometimes become invalids in order to win sympathy and attention, and get a feeling of importance. For example, take Mrs. McKinley. She got a feeling of importance by forcing her husband, the President of the United States to neglect important affairs of state while he reclined on the bed beside her for hours at a time, his arms about her, soothing her to sleep. She fed her gnawing desire for attention by insisting that he remain with her while she was having her teeth fixed, and once created a stormy scene when he had to leave her alone with the dentist while he kept an appointment with John Hay, his secretary of state.” – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, p. 20.
2. These are people who compare themselves to others. If I can get more attention than others, then “obviously” I’m more important than others - II Corinthians 10:12
D. But among Christ’s followers, importance is defined by service - Matthew 20:26-28
1. Better to give service than to receive service - Acts 20:34-35
2. The greatest in the kingdom is the servant - Luke 22:25-27
3. Service gives the deepest satisfaction of being important in another person’s life. And it is most likely to lead to appreciation from those being helped.
IV. Neglected Praise
A. We ought to understand the need in our fellow man is the same as our own. We want to be appreciated.
1. “Once I did bad, and that I heard over. / Twice I did good, but that I heard never”
2. Love keeps no record of wrong - I Corinthians 13:5
3. But far too many people will give a tongue lashing because of their personal pride instead of preserving another - Proverbs 14:3
B. At the end of long day of heavy work, a farm woman set before her menfolk heaping piles of hay. “What are you doing?” they demanded, “Are you crazy? We can’t eat this!” To which she replied, “How was I to know what you liked? I’ve been cooking for you men for the last twenty years and in all that time I ain’t heard one word to let me know you weren’t just eating hay.”
1. God expects us to appreciate the things He has done for us - Luke 17:12-19
2. We should do the same for our fellow man -
C. Now we are not talking about flattery. Flattery is shallow, selfish, and insincere.
1. Kisses of an enemy - Proverbs 27:6
2. Double minded - Psalm 12:1-4
3. Self serving liars - Romans 16:18
D. What we need to offer is sincere appreciation
1. Paul Harvey in his Rest of the Story broadcasts told of a young teacher in Detroit who asked her student, Stevie Morris, to help her. It seems a mouse had gotten away from its cage and she couldn’t find it. She understood that nature had given Stevie something that no one else had in the room. You see, Stevie had remarkable hearing. It compensated for his blindness. She would appreciate it if he could locate the mouse with his hearing, and locate it he did. This was the first time Stevie was appreciated for something that he could do and do well. That one act of appreciation was a turning point in his life. He developed his talent, took on the stage name of Stevie Wonder, and became a great pop singer and song writer.
2. When you enjoy a good meal, send word to the chef. When a sales person gives you unusual courtesy, mention it.
3. Use pleasant words - Proverbs 16:24
4. Fitly spoken words - Proverbs 25:11
5. Words spoken at the right time - Proverbs 15:23
E. Even difficult people can have things to compliment. Think of all the problems Paul had with the Corinthians, yet notice what he said - II Corinthians 7:14
1. Emerson once said, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”
V. We should not search for praise, though we all like to receive it. But we should know that we and others like praise and we should be generous in giving it - Proverbs 27:2
A. Paul did not seek glory from men - I Thessalonians 2:5-6
B. But he looked forward to encouraging and being encouraged - Romans 1:12
C. Barnabas did it for others - Acts 11:23
D. People happy at receiving encouragement - Acts 15:31
E. Encouraged with hearts knitted together in love - Colossians 2:1-3
F. “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” - Anonymous, 1868