1. What is appreciation?
Appreciation can mean both understanding (e.g. "I appreciate what you say, but I disagree") and thankfulness (e.g. "I appreciate you standing up for me").
Once there was a girl who lived on an orange farm. Her dad was the farmer and she could pick an orange and eat it whenever she wanted.
I know a couple who often took in foster children. One time they were looking after a young boy. They had a bowl of fruit on the table and after lunch they let the boy have an orange. Afterwards, they saw him sneak another orange into his pocket and he looked very guilty when he knew they had seen him. When they asked why he had taken it, he said that in his home they very rarely had oranges, and if they ever did have them, there would only be a few and if you didn't grab them quickly there wouldn't be any left for you later on. The foster parents weren't cross but assured the boy that there would always be plenty of oranges and that he could have one whenever he wanted. He didn't have to try to steel them.
Which one of those two children do you think appreciated their oranges more? I bet the girl just took them for granted and never even thought about being thankful for them.
We'd like you to appreciate all the good things you have: to both understand that you are very blessed and very rich, and to be thankful. You have wonderful bedrooms all to yourself. You have heaps of toys, never-ending supply of food, a secure home and loving family, good education, good health --- more of everything that you actually need.
As parents, we love giving you all that, but we also know that because you have so much, we have made it hard for you to appreciate what you've got. We aren't going to take things away from you, but want to help you think more often about how much you've got. That's part of why we expose you to Africa -- by seeing others in need, you might be able to appreciate how well off we are.
2. What is generosity?
To be generous it to give more than expected. It might be to give more money, more time, more attention, more praise etc. It might be just giving someone the benefit of the doubt when you don't know if you can really trust them. It might be not having to come first all the time.
We try to give you a model of generosity so that you can become generous too.
The most generous person by far is God. All good things ultimately come from God. That's why we say grace at dinner each night. God blesses us far beyond what we deserve.
3. God is generous to us so that we can be generous to others
2 Cor 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.God comforts us so that we can comfort others.
2 Cor 9:6-15 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (v11) (similarly in 1 Tim 6:17-19)God gives us money so that we can pass that money on to others. (Not so that we then become poor, but so there may be equality -- 2 Cor 8:13-15.)
Luke 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is mercifulGod is merciful so that we can be merciful to others.
How can we be generous in the comfort that we share with others, in the way we use our money, and in the way we show mercy?